NEW YORK, March 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed modestly higher after toggling in and out of negative territory Tuesday, as investors tried to digest a slew of mixed economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91.19 points, or 0.56 percent, to 16,367.88. The S&P 500 added 8.18 points, or 0.44 percent, to 1,865.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 7.88 points, or 0.19 percent, to 4,234.27.
The three major indices initially moved higher at open, shrugging off Monday's negative sentiment, following mixed performances around the world. European stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday, while Asian shares closed mostly lower.
As more data rolled out mixed, the market then staged a seesaw trading session, lacking a clear direction.
The growth pace of U.S. home prices slowed in January due to severe winter weather, with the 20-City Composite posting its third consecutive monthly decline of 0.1 percent, according to the widely-watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released by S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Another report released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed that U.S. house prices rose 0.5 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month, slightly better than market consensus.
Moreover, sales of new single-family houses in February dropped 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000, the lowest level in five months, said the Commerce Department Tuesday. But the reading still matched market consensus.
Additionally, U.S. consumer confidence data came in as a surprise on the upside. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index stood at 82.3 in March, up from the revised reading of 78.3 in February, said the Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, in its monthly survey. The fresh figure beat analysts' expectations.
The stock market held gains in most of the afternoon trading session, as buying trumped selling marginally, which helped Wall Street snap a two-session losing streak.
Separately, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday that market reaction to the Federal Reserve's policy meeting statement last week was "a little bit puzzling," as he did not think the Fed changed its position.
Referring to a six-month gap between an end to bond buying and rate hikes suggested by Fed Chair Janet Yellen at a press conference after the meeting, Plosser said "a lot of evidence and surveys suggested that six months wasn't a wildly unexpected time frame," stressing that it's much better to talk about economic conditions rather than time frames.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, dipped 7.09 percent to finish at 14.02.
In other markets, the U.S. dollar traded mixed against major currencies and it strengthened against the euro on market expectation that the European Central Bank may take more stimulus measures.
In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3826 dollars from 1.3838 dollars in the previous session. The dollar bought 102. 27 Japanese yen, higher than 102.25 yen of the previous session.
U.S. oil price slipped as investors awaited the U.S. petroleum inventories data. Light, sweet crude for May delivery moved down 41 cents to settle at 99.19 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for May delivery gained 18 cents to close at 106.99 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange bottomed out of a five-week low on mixed economic data. The most active gold contract for April delivery rose 20 cents, or 0.02 percent, to settle at 1,311.4 dollars per ounce.