Stocks stumbled through a rocky morning, then found their footing today after investors digested reports showing the economy growing at a healthy pace.
Early trading didn't seem to get much of a lift from government reports that orders for durable goods grew by 1.4 percent in June--their third monthly gain in a row--and new home sales set another record.
But the markets perked up after the Federal Reserve issued its regional updates on economic conditions around the country, which reinforced optimism about the economy.
Wall Street's "so what?" take on home sales is typical of the way traders think. They all know the housing market is hot, so the temperature doesn't matter. What they want to know is when it will cool off and what that will mean for the economy. With that attitude implanted, there's simply nothing that could happen on the housing front that would benefit the stock market.
The broader economy, however, is another matter. No one's quite sure how healthy it is or what measurements of economic activity really matter. So it was easy to shrug off the durable goods data this morning, but the second dose of data showing solid growth was too much to ignore.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index spent much of the morning in losing territory but turned positive around mid-day.
The Nasdaq composite closed up 10 points at 2,186.22 while the S&P 500 gained almost 6 points to 1,236.79. The S&P closed at a new high for the year and this also is the highest it's closed in four years.
After spending the morning hovering above break even, the Dow Jones industrial average began climbing and closed up 57 points at 10,637.09.