By Geoffrey Rogow
NEW YORK -- Stocks were lifted to new closing highs for 2009 by strong readings on home prices and consumer confidence in a trading day that was paced by the consumer sector, including Coach and Macy's /zigman2/quotes/201854387/composite M -1.36% as well as insurers and industrials.
Still, a series of declines for energy companies kept the gains in check.
The reports sparked a broad market rally that had all three major indexes closing at new highs for 2009.
Among consumer shares, gains were led by Coach, up $1.23, or 4.4%, to $29.26, and Macy's, up 53 cents, or 3.5%, to 15.85.
Throughout the session, traders were scooping up a broad spectrum of consumer companies ahead of more economic data on the consumer expected in coming days. Notably, new-home-sales data will come in on Wednesday, and the end of the week will include reports on second-quarter GDP, personal income and consumer spending.
Insurers also were strong, including Hartford Financial Group /zigman2/quotes/207281914/composite HIG -1.61% , up 1.57, or 7.5%, to 22.62, while the Dow was paced by industrial Boeing /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA -0.51% , up 1.12, or 2.4%, to 48.25.
Weighing against the broader market was a slide in oil prices. Crude briefly touched around $75 a barrel before cascading lower. Natural gas also closed lower, for the 12th time in 14 sessions. Among the energy decliners, Southwestern Energy /zigman2/quotes/208301463/composite SWN -0.31% lost 1.58, or 3.8%, to 39.67.
Quarterly reports also helped consumer companies, with fast-food chain Burger King's fiscal fourth-quarter profit climbing 16%, lifting shares 1.09, or 6.2%, to 18.75.
Home builder Pulte Homes /zigman2/quotes/201694804/composite PHM -0.56% rose 44 cents, or 3.5%, to 13.06, as it increased the number of notes it will buy back after receiving a strong response to buy up debt issued by it and merger partner Centex.
Cummins /zigman2/quotes/208385233/composite CMI -0.59% said it will cut about 400 workers by March at its filtration business as the engine maker deals with slumping revenue. The engine maker closed up 1.26, or 2.7%, at 48.
Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq), up 2.03, or 12%, at 19.21, rose for the sixth consecutive session as market chatter picked up this week about a possible takeover by U.K. drug giant GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK -0.43% , though analysts said there was nothing concrete to the speculation and added the shares deserve to be up anyway.
Miners Ivanhoe Mines /zigman2/quotes/207656050/delayed CA:IVN 0.00% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/222358280/composite RTP +2.93% said Mongolia's parliament agreed to cancel a windfall profit tax on copper and gold and amended three other laws, clearing the way for a final investment agreement for the $3 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project. Ivanhoe closed up 2.06, or 24%, at 10.81, while Rio Tinto slid 95 cents, or 0.6%, to 161.56.
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