Wall Street rose on Wednesday on upbeat U.S. data but expectations that another meeting of European leaders would do little to solve the region's debt crisis could keep trading choppy.
Demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose sharply more than expected in May and contracts to buy homes on resale matched a two-year high, fueling optimism the housing market is poised for a recovery.
"This is all the continuation of some pretty good news in the housing sector. Housing was keeping us down; if housing starts rallying this could be very helpful to the market," said Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions from the floor or the New York Stock Exchange.
The PHLX housing sector index <.HGX> rose 3.2 percent, taking the year-to-day gains to near 26 percent. Shares of Lennar Corp rose 6.6 percent to $29.19 after the U.S. homebuilder reported a rise in new orders for the fifth straight quarter.
Few anticipate anything concrete to emerge from the two-day European Union meeting that kicks off Thursday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said debt sharing, an idea backed by France, Italy and Spain, would not happen in her lifetime.
Costa said the data "is the only positive sign I can see for the market today. I don't think anything is coming out of this EU meeting."
Markets have anxiously waited for tangible action to contain the credit crisis in Europe. With Spanish 10-year yields near the 7 percent level, the euro zone's fourth-largest economy appears set to be the next country to seek a bailout after getting approval for money to recapitalize its banks. Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus already have asked for financial help.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 91.62 points, or 0.73 percent, to 12,626.29. The S&P 500 Index <.SPX> gained 11.02 points, or 0.83 percent, to 1,331.01. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 22.24 points, or 0.78 percent, to 2,876.30.
Some of Wall Street's top analysts have published their research on Facebook Inc and most are cautiously optimistic. Facebook shares fell 2.6 percent to $32.23 after gaining more than 20 percent in the past two weeks.
A U.S. judge on Tuesday backed Apple's request to stop Samsung <005930.KS> selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the United States, giving the iPhone maker a significant win in the global smartphone and tablet patent wars. Apple shares edged 0.6 percent higher.
Google shares gained 1.3 percent to $572 after reports the company will soon unveil a tablet co-branded with Taiwan's Asustek Computer <2357.TW> and priced to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Shares of O-Reilly Automotive tumbled 17.4 percent to $79.66 a day after the auto parts retailer revised its outlook.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, editing by Dave Zimmerman)