NEW YORK, May 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks gained for three days in a row Friday, with the S&P 500 closing above the psychologically important level of 1,900 points for the first time ever in history, as upbeat April new home sales pointed to a bright housing market.
The broader S&P 500 increased 8.04 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1,900.53. On May 13, the benchmark index briefly hit a record intraday high of 1,902.17 points before retreating below the round number of 1,900 points at the close.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.19 points, or 0.38 percent, to 16,606.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 31.47 points, or 0.76 percent, to 4,185.81.
The market rally was largely attributed to better-than-expected new home sales released Friday morning. The upbeat data somewhat re-ignited investor enthusiasm, which helped major indices refresh record highs repeatedly over a week ago.
U.S. sales of new single-family houses in April stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, 6.4 percent above the revised March rate of 407,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The reading easily surpassed market consensus.
In the past week or so, the stock market wavered near record highs, as investors tended to stay on the sideline, awaiting more catalysts that could support the market.
The encouraging housing data triggered some sorts of buying that dominated the market in the day, helping the three indices close the week in green territory, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq up 0.7 percent, 1.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
Moreover, the latest corporate earnings season fared better than what analysts had expected, which also provided a boost to the market. So far, 97 percent of the S&P 500 companies, or 487 companies, have reported first-quarter earnings, among which 68.2 percent have beaten market expectations, while 52.8 percent have topped analyst expectations on revenue side.
On corporate earnings side, Hewlett-Packard Co shares rose 6.10 percent to 33.72 dollars apiece, a day after the company posted results for its fiscal second quarter. The personal computer maker posted adjusted earnings of 88 cents per share, in line with market expectations, while its quarterly sales were slightly below estimates.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of fear in the market, dropped 5.57 percent to end at 11.36 on Friday.
In other markets, the dollar strengthened against most major currencies and it continued rising versus the euro after data showed German business confidence declined.
The Ifo institute's business climate index fell to 110.4 in May from 111.2 in the previous month, which showed German business confidence weakened more than forecast and indicated the country's economic growth may slow in the second quarter.
In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3632 dollars from 1.3651 dollars in the previous session. The dollar bought 101. 96 Japanese yen, higher than 101.80 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices rose as U.S. April new home sales surpassed market consensus. Light, sweet crude for July delivery moved up 61 cents to settle at 104.35 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell following positive U.S. home sales data and strength in U.S. equities.
The most active gold contract for June delivery fell 3.3 dollars, or 0.25 percent, to settle at 1291.7 dollars per ounce.