U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday after data pointed to stabilizing labor and housing markets, considered two big headwinds slowing down a recovery.
Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes rose to their highest level in a year in October. Also, consumer spending increased more than expected, while new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply, suggesting the recovery was gaining traction.
It looks like people are spending again a little bit more, which is bad for the savings rate but good for the retailers and good for the economy, said Todd Leone, head of listed trading at Cowen & Co New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 33.64 points, or 0.32 percent, at 10,467.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 3.37 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,109.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 7.45 points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,176.63.
The market also got a lift from a weaker U.S. dollar, which fell 0.7 percent to an almost 15-month low against a basket of currencies <.DXY> after U.S. Federal Reserve minutes showed policymakers saw the dollar's recent decline as orderly.
As investors assess the strength of the recovery, they're also questioning whether the S&P 500's 22 percent rise this year still has legs.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index <.VIX>, a favorite pulse of investor sentiment, sank to its lowest intraday level in 15 months. The VIX dropped as low as 20.05 Wednesday.
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(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)