Stocks inch up after strong housing, consumer data

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes moved higher in midday trading Tuesday as investors worked through a handful of positive economic reports. Homebuilder stocks rose sharply after the government reported sales of new homes rose in May to the highest level in six years.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,953 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,966 and the Nasdaq composite rose 28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,396. Tuesday's gains come after stocks fell slightly Monday. Both the Dow and S&P 500 are flirting with record highs again.

Nasdaq got a boost from Micron Technology, which jumped $1.54, or 5 percent, to $32.80. The semiconductor maker reported better-than-expected profit and raised its earnings forecast for the next quarter.

DRUG BOOST: Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which is also listed on the Nasdaq, soared $26.39, or 40 percent, to $93.06 after saying its treatment for cystic fibrosis appeared to work better than a placebo in a late-stage study. Vertex plans to seek approval for the treatment in the U.S. and Europe.

EARNINGS MISS: Drugstore chain Walgreen fell 54 cents, or 1 percent, to $73.16 after the company reported a fiscal third-quarter profit that missed analysts' expectations.

INDICATORS: The Commerce Department said sales of new homes jumped 18.6 percent in May to an annualized rate of 504,000. That's the highest level since May 2008. In a separate report, the Conference Board said consumer confidence rose to 85.2 in June, better than the 83.5 economists had predicted.

Homebuilders jumped on the new homes report, with Pulte Homes, Toll Brothers, KB Home and Ryland all up 2 percent or more.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.61 percent from 2.63 on Monday. The price of oil was little changed at $106.32 a barrel.