Stocks on Wall Street moved higher Wednesday as the Commerce Department said housing construction starts rose in June.
Projects begun on privately owned homes rose 6.9 percent from May, but building permits issued in the month dropped 3.7 percent.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday the "recovery in the United States continues to be held back by a number of other headwinds," but he noted "the housing market has shown improvement," although it has been less palliative than in previous economic recoveries.
By close of trading Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average added 103.16 points, 0.81 percent, to 12,908.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 9.11 points, 0.67 percent, to 1,372.78. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 32.56 points, 1.12 percent, to 2,942.60.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,871 stocks advanced and 1,142 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.501 percent.
The euro fell to $1.2282 from Tuesday's $1.2295. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 78.82 yen from 79.07 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.32 percent, 28.26, to 8,726.74.
In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 1.01 percent, 56.68 points, to 5,685.77.