Consumer confidence jump sends US stocks higher

US stocks closed decisively higher Tuesday following strong reports on consumer confidence and the housing market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115.96 (0.84 percent) to 13,900.13.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 9.09 (0.61 percent) to 1,496.94, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 13.40 (0.43 percent) to 3,129.65.

The buoyant trading came after reports showed surprisingly robust new home sales and consumer confidence.

The Conference Board's February consumer confidence index jumped to 69.6 from 58.4 in January, well above the average analyst estimate of a 62.0 reading.

Stocks were also aided by congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who reaffirmed that the Fed's aggressive stimulus program would remain in effect until economic conditions improve.

Dow member Home Depot surged 5.7 percent after reporting better-than-expected earnings and announcing a $17 billion share repurchase program and a 34 percent hike in its quarterly dividend.

Home Depot competitor, Lowe's gained 2.0 percent.

Another Dow component, Intel, picked up 1.7 percent after announcing a semiconductor pact with Altera.

Hewlett-Packard rose 3.8 percent after announcing a deal to sell its webOS technology to television manufacturer LG Electronics for an undisclosed sum.

Department store giant Macy's rose 2.8 percent after besting analyst expectations and announcing solid 2013 earnings guidance.

High-end retail chain Saks picked up 1.6 percent after reporting earnings that were slightly better than expectations.

Drug manufacturer Vivus slumped 12.3 percent after reporting deeper losses in the most recent quarter compared with a year ago.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year bond fell to 1.88 percent from 1.90 percent late Monday, while the 30-year fell to 3.08 percent from 3.09 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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