The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added 13.37 points, or 0.09 percent, to end at 15,555.61, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 4.31 points, or 0.26 percent, to 1,690.25. The Nasdaq Composite index (^IXIC) gained 25.59 points, or 0.71 percent, to close at 3,605.19.
D.R. Horton (DHI), the country's largest builder, and rival PulteGroup (PHM) said orders for new houses jumped in the second quarter, but their results still fell short of what analysts had expected. PulteGroup also posted a 14 percent decline in profits, while D.R. Horton said it saw the pace of sales decline starting in May as interest rates rose.
Technology stocks fared better. Facebook (FB) jumped 30 percent after reporting earnings late Wednesday that easily beat analyst forecasts thanks to higher revenue from advertisements on mobile devices. The social network's stock rose $7.91 to $34.42.
Average rates on U.S. fixed mortgages rose to a two-year high of 4.51 percent two weeks ago, but have since dropped back a bit. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year loan rate fell -- for the second straight week -- to 4.31 percent, down from 4.37 percent last week.
Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in June, bolstered by higher aircraft demand and more spending by businesses that signals investment plans. The Commerce Department said durable goods orders increased 4.2 percent last month, following an upwardly revised 5.2 percent gain in May.
General Motors (GM) reported that second-quarter net income fell 16 percent as slowing international profits and losses in Europe offset strong North American earnings. Still, the comeback automaker soundly beat Wall Street expectations. Excluding one-time items, the company made 84 cents a share; analysts polled by FactSet expected 75 cents.
Other Stocks in the News:
- Bunge Limited (BG) rose 29 cents to $74.51 despite reporting second-quarter earnings that were well below estimates. The agribusiness company, which sells and purchases huge amounts of grain, reported net income of 75 cents a share, down from $1.78 a share a year ago. Analysts on average were looking for earnings of $1.27 a share, according to FactSet.
- Shares of Boston Scientific (BSX) jumped $1.23, or 12.8 percent, to $10.84 after the medical-device maker reported better-than-expected earnings from sales of its stents and other cardiovascular devices.
- Crocs Inc. (CROX) shares fell more than 20 percent after Goldman Sachs downgraded the footwear maker's stock rating to "Neutral" from "Buy." The maker of colorful plastic shoes also reported second-quarter results that fell far short of Wall Street expectations.
- Las Vegas Sands (LVS), a major casino operator, fell 53 cents, or 0.96 percent, to $54.43 after it posted lower revenue and income than financial analysts had expected.
- Harley-Davidson (HOG) fell 16 cents, or 0.29 percent, to $55.70 despite news that the Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker's earnings rose 10 percent in the second quarter, driven by an aggressive expansion abroad and revamped production.
- Visa (V) rose $7.79, or 4.17 percent, to $194.54. The credit card company returned to profitability in its third fiscal quarter and reported strong revenue growth as the company processed more transactions worldwide.
- Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) outpaced the broader market, after the mobile device chipmaker Wednesday reported a 31 percent jump in fiscal third-quarter earnings and raised its expectations for the year. Shares of mobile chipmaker rose 3.37 percent, or $2.07, to $63.46. The stock is up 2 percent so far this year.
- The University of Michigan releases its final estimate for consumer sentiment in July at 9:55 a.m. Eastern time.