The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) an edged up just a fraction of a point each, but the Nasdaq jumped 23 to close above 4017. Homebuilders rallied on reports showing building permits rose strongly last month, and prices continued to increase. Lennar (LEN) gained 5 percent, while Pulte (PHM), KB Home (KBH) and D.R. Horton (DHI) all rose more than 4 percent.
Retail stocks were mostly higher as stores geared up for Black Friday.
Jewelry chains sparkled. Tiffany (TIF) soared 9 percent as its earnings easily topped expectations and the company raised its outlook for the current quarter, due to growth in China and Japan. Zale (ZLC) rose more than 3 percent and Blue Nile (NILE) gained 2 percent.
And an interesting takeover battle has broken out between two men's clothing retailers. Men's Wearhouse (MW) rose 7 percent after launching a bid for rival Jos. A Bank (JOSB), which gained 11 percent. Last month, Men's Wearhouse rejected a unsolicited buyout offer from Jos. A Bank. So it appears that they want to combine. It's just not clear who's going to be the buyer.
But DSW (DSW), the discount shoe chain, fell 5 percent on a disappointing forecast.
Also on the Earnings Front:
- Barnes & Noble (BKS) fell 6 percent. It swung to a profit, but sales were lower.
- Cracker Barrel (CBRL) lost 7 percent on weak traffic at its restaurants.
- Nuance (NUAN) tumbled 18 percent. The maker of speech conversion software missed on revenue. Its growth has slowed dramatically.
- Hormel (HRL), best known for its Spam and chili, gained 6 percent on strong earnings.
What to Watch Wednesday:
- The Commerce Department releases two reports for October -- durable goods; and personal income and spending -- both at 8:30 a.m.
- The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates and the Conference Board releases its survey consumer sentiment for November at 10 a.m.