RTTNews - After ending the previous session mixed, stocks are seeing substantial strength in late morning trading on Thursday. The major averages have all moved sharply higher, with the Dow climbing above the 9,000 level for the first time since early January.

Housing stocks are turning in some of the market's best performances, benefiting from the release of a report from the National Association of Realtors showing that existing home sales increased for the third consecutive month in June.

NAR said existing home sales rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised rate of 4.72 million in May. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.84 million unit rate from the 4.77 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

A variety of other sectors have also shown notable moves to the upside, as traders react positively to the latest batch of earnings news. Some chemical, real estate, oil service, and retail stocks are posting standout gains.

The major averages are currently posting substantial gains, just off their best levels of the day. The Dow is currently up 177.45 at 9,058.71, the Nasdaq is up 38.58 at 1,964.96 and the S&P 500 is up 20.35 at 974.42.

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