NEW YORK, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks logged small gains on Wednesday after a pair of upbeat reports on housing market and new stimulus program announced by the Bank of Japan.
When the market closed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 13.32 points, or 0.10 percent, to 13,577.96.
Both the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained for the first time this week, rising 1.73 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,461.05 and 4.82 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3, 182.62 respectively.
The CBOE Volatility Index, which is widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, slid below 14.
Stocks got a lift after the National Association of Realtors said that the U.S. existing-home sales gained 7.8 percent to an annual rate of 4.82 million in August, a larger increase than the previous month with prices continuing to rise.
The reading was the highest level since May 2010, when sales were aided by a federal home-buying tax credit.
Meanwhile, housing starts rose 2.3 percent to 750,000 in August, boosted by strong single-family house constructions, but less than expected as new construction of apartments slowed down, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.
Also boosting risk appetite, the Bank of Japan Wednesday announced it would expand its asset purchase and loan program by 10 trillion yen (about 124 billion U.S. dollars), a move by the bank to ease monetary policy and bolster the country's economy.
However, the gains in the market were checked, lagged by energy shares as oil had its worst day in nearly two months.
Crude prices plummeted for the third straight day on Wednesday as U.S. crude inventories rose sharply and Saudi Arabia, the world largest oil producer might increase supplies to contain the oil prices.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell 3.31 dollars, or 3. 47 percent to settle at 91.98 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. U.S. oil has not closed under 92 dollars a barrel since Aug. 10. This week, it has fallen over 7 percent.
Among stocks in focus, Groupon soared nearly 14 percent after launching a mobile payment app, allowing merchants to swipe credit cards using an iPhone or iPod Touch.
Shares of Facebook also surged, ending nearly 6.5 percent higher and hitting a six-week high intra day.