Wall Street today finally found something to get excited about: the best consumer confidence rating in two years, better than expected new home sales and even an earnings surprise in the troubled telecommunications business.
The good news trigged long-repressed buying urges that produced the biggest daily gain in seven weeks for the Dow Jones industrial average. Adding more than 123 points, the Dow climbed back above the 10,000 point to close at 10,085.14, a 1.2 percent gain for the day.
Keeping pace, the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index rose more than 1.6 percent with a 30-point advance. It closed at 1,869.10.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, which had hit a new low for the year on Monday, increased nearly 11 points to 1,094.83.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index climbed for the fourth month in a row in July. Defying predictions that it would slip a bit, the index jumped from 102.8 in June to 106.1 in July, its highest point since June 2002.
Steady improvements in the job market pushed the index higher. "Unless the job market sours, consumer confidence should continue to post solid numbers," predicted Lynn Franco, director of consumer research for the board, a private industry group.
New home sales did slip as economists had been predicting, but not as much as expected. Despite the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates, the homebuilding industry is still throwing up houses at a 1.3 million-a-year pace, the second fastest on record. Stocks of most homebuilders, which have been easing off record peaks, perked up in response.
Also better than expected was the second quarter profit report from Verizon, the nation's largest phone company. Verizon posted a quarterly profit of $1.8 billion -- five times what it made in the same period a year ago.
Verizon's wireless division said its customer count has grown 25 percent in the past month. To serve the new customers, Verizon Wireless said it plans to add 300 jobs at its Washington regional headquarters in Laurel.
The telephone industry this quarter is sorting itself into the haves and have-nots. AT&T reported a record loss last week and announced that it will give up trying to sell phone service to consumers. But Verizon is prospering, along with Nextel Communications of Reston, which last week reported its earnings more than tripled while sales grew 29 percent.
Although several other companies reported strong second quarter earnings today, many of them also warned that the rest of the year doesn't look so good.
Among them was U.S. Airways of Arlington, which reported that its second quarter profit jumped to $34 million from $13 million in the first three months of the year. But chief executive Bruce Lakefield issued a statement warning that "we likely will be faced with additional second-half losses."