The Nasdaq conquered a milestone, housing stocks kept building on their 2013 gains, and jewelers' earnings shone brightly on Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) soared past the 4,000 level for the second day in a row, but this time it held on and closed there – the first time that's happened since September of 2000.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) an edged up just a fraction of a point each, but the Nasdaq jumped 23 to close above 4017.
Homebuilders rallied on reports showing building permits rose strongly last month, and prices continued to increase. Lennar (LEN) gained 5 percent, while Pulte (PHM), KB Home (KBH) and D.R. Horton (DHI) all rose more than 4 percent.
Retail stocks were mostly higher as stores geared up for Black Friday.
Jewelry chains sparkled. Tiffany (TIF) soared 9 percent as its earnings easily topped expectations and the company raised its outlook for the current quarter, due to growth in China and Japan. Zale (ZLC) rose more than 3 percent and Blue Nile (NILE) gained 2 percent.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%In general, the retailers in the sweet spot have been those catering to high-end shoppers. Coach (COH) gained 3 percent and Macy's added 1 percent.
And an interesting takeover battle has broken out between two men's clothing retailers. Men's Wearhouse (MW) rose 7 percent after launching a bid for rival Jos. A Bank (JOSB), which gained 11 percent. Last month, Men's Wearhouse rejected a unsolicited buyout offer from Jos. A Bank. So it appears that they want to combine. It's just not clear who's going to be the buyer.
But DSW (DSW), the discount shoe chain, fell 5 percent on a disappointing forecast.
Also on the Earnings Front:
Barnes & Noble (BKS) fell 6 percent. It swung to a profit, but sales were lower.
Cracker Barrel (CBRL) lost 7 percent on weak traffic at its restaurants.
Nuance (NUAN) tumbled 18 percent. The maker of speech conversion software missed on revenue. Its growth has slowed dramatically.
Hormel (HRL), best known for its Spam and chili, gained 6 percent on strong earnings.
What to Watch Wednesday:
The Commerce Department releases two reports for October -- durable goods; and personal income and spending -- both at 8:30 a.m.
The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m.
Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates and the Conference Board releases its survey consumer sentiment for November at 10 a.m.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.