* U.S. lawmakers say they're confident they can avoid
* Existing home sales, homebuilder sentiment climb
* Earnings boost Lowe's, Tyson Foods
* Indexes up: Dow 1.3 pct, S&P 1.6 pct, Nasdaq 1.8 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Wall Street climbed on Monday ,
putting the S&P 500 on track for its second straight advance a s
investors were en couraged by the early tone in talks to ta ckle
the fiscal crunch and data that showed con tinued improvement in
the housing recovery.
The S&P 500 is up more than 2 percent over the past two
sessions as rhetoric from legislators has provided investors
with some hope a deal could be reached to stave off the looming
"fiscal cliff," a se ries of tax and spending changes that will
start to come into effect in the new year.
Before the recent gains, the benchmark S&P index had fallen
5.3 percent since Election D a y, as concerns about Washington's
ability to reach an agreement became the top focus for
Over the weekend, leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers
expressed confidence that they could reach a deal to avert the
"fiscal cliff", even as they laid down markers on raising taxes
and spending cuts that may make any agreement more difficult.
But the recent climb could prove to simply be a bounce from
the sharp declines, with market volatility expected to be
heightened by the perception of negotiation progress.
"There has been a pretty steady downward move for a while so
you are going to have days like this, especially when the news
is good," said Uri Landesman, pr e sident at Platinum Partners in
"In general, what you are going to watch is if there is no
deal, you are going to see the market trade down during the
Stronger-than-expected earnings from Lowe's and Tyson Foods,
as well as encouraging housing data, also contributed to the
market's advance. Ty son and Lowe's were the top two percentage
gainers on the S&P 500.
U.S. home resales unexpectedly increased in October, while
separate data showed homebuilder sentiment rose to its highest
level in over six years in November.
The PHLX Housing Index rose 1.7 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 173.72
points, or 1.38 percent, to 12,762.03. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index rose 22.52 points, or 1.66 percent, to 1,382.40.
The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 51.59 points, or 1.81
percent, to 2,904.72.
The S&P was holding near its 200-day moving average at
around 1,382, which has acted as a resistance level since a drop
below the technically significant mark on November 8.
Shares of Lowe's Cos Inc, the world's No. 2 home
improvement chain, jumped 6.1 percent to $33.94 after the
company reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and
raised its full-year sales forecast.
Tyson Foods Inc likewise beat expectations and gave
an upbeat forecast, sending its stock up 7.8 percent at $18.20.
Intel shares edged lower, down 0.2 percent to
$20.15 after the company said its chief executive will retire in
Commodities prices surged, boosting shares of resource
companies. Freeport-McMoRan rose 3.8 percent to $38.18,
while U.S. Steel rose 4.3 percent to $20.94. The S&P
materials sector advanced 2.4 percent.