Wall Street rose amid better-than-expected corporate earnings including from DuPont.
In 1.13pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6 per cent, as did the Nasdaq Composite Index. In 12.58pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5 per cent.
"I believe that the market's focus has shifted a bit back to fundamentals and the fourth-quarter earnings season, which at this point has started off on a reasonably positive note," Bill Northey, chief investment officer at Private Client Group of US Bank, told Reuters.
Gains in shares of DuPont and those of IBM, up 4.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively, led the Dow higher. Meanwhile, shares of Verizon and those of Johnson & Johnson dropped, recently 4.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent weaker respectively, for the largest percentage declines in the Dow.
DuPont posted fourth-quarter profit that bettered analysts' expectations. It also reassured investors that its merger with Dow Chemical remains on track, even as the deal is now expected to close in the first half of the year, later than previously expected as the companies address concerns of antitrust regulators.
"We look forward to closing the merger with Dow and are continuing to have constructive discussions with regulators in key jurisdictions," Chief Executive Officer Ed Breen said in a statement about its latest earnings. "We now expect the merger to close in the first half of 2017, pending regulatory approval."
Shares of Dow Chemical traded 3.6 per cent higher as of 1.06 pm in New York
Breen's comments on a conference call to discuss the company's results helped reassure investors that DuPont can satisfy regulators, Matt Arnold, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co, told Bloomberg.
"People feel better after hearing them talk through what is going on," Arnold said. "Their conversations with regulators seem to be going well."
Meanwhile, a National Association of Realtors report showed that sales of previously owned US homes slid more than forecast last month. Even so, sales for the full year were the highest since 2006.
I believe that the market's focus has shifted a bit back to fundamentals and the fourth-quarter earnings season, which at this point has started off on a reasonably positive note.
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Existing sales decreased 2.8 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in December from an upwardly revised 5.65 million in November.
"Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market," Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. "However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December."
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.3 per cent advance from the previous close, bolstered by gains in mining stocks. France's CAC 40 Index rose 0.2 per cent, while Germany's DAX Index added 0.4 per cent. The UK's FTSE 100 Index ended the day little changed from the previous close.