Stocks Ended Up on Bernanke Comments, Housing

U.S. stocks ended up on Tuesday, rebounding from their worst decline since November after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the Fed’s bond-buying stimulus before Congress and sales of new homes hit a 4 1-2-year high. the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 115.96 points, or 0.84%, to 13,900.13. The S&P 500 climbed 9.09 points, or 0.61%, to 1,496.94. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 13.40 points, or 0.43%, to 3,129.64.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke strongly defended the U.S. central bank’s monetary stimulus before Congress on Tuesday, easing financial market worries over a possible early retreat from bond buys. The Fed chairman also urged lawmakers to avoid sharp spending cuts set to go into effect on Friday, which he warned could combine with earlier tax increases to create a “significant headwind” for the modest economic recovery.

Sales of newly constructed U.S. housing jumped almost 16% in January — hitting the highest level in 4½ years — offering strong proof that the sector’s rebound trend is intact.

Priceline.com, the online travel agency known for its name your own price auction, on Tuesday reported higher quarterly profit. The company said fourth-quarter net income of $288.7 million, or $5.63 per share, compared with $225.7 million, or $4.41 per share, a year earlier.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline climbed to $3.782 on Tuesday, edging above the previous year-to-date high of $3.781 seen on Feb. 22. Sales of new homes rose to an annual rate of 437,000 last month from an upwardly revised 378,000 in December.

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