U.S. equities rallied in midday trading amid rumors that Greece was nearing a successful end to negotiations with its creditors.
Worries that Greece would not ultimately reach a deal have been a key factor restraining the stock market in both the U.S. and Europe in recent months.
As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both jumped 0.9 percent, to 18,178 and 2,129, respectively. The S&P Retailing Industry Group rose 0.7 percent to 1,162.
Also fueling trading were some hostile takeover talks in the health-care sector as well as a robust housing report from the National Association of Realtors that showed a 5.1 percent gain in existing-home sales.
The association said in its report that the increase was bolstered by a jolt in the number of sales to first-time buyers. The gain for May was the highest increase in six years.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said in a statement that May home sales “rebounded strongly following April’s decline and are now at their highest pace since November 2009. Solid sales gains were seen throughout the country in May as more homeowners listed their home for sale and therefore provided greater choices for buyers.”
Yun added that the overall supply, however, “still remains tight” and that “homes are selling fast and price growth in many markets continues to teeter at or near double-digit appreciation. Without solid gains in new home construction, prices will likely stay elevated — even with higher mortgage rates above 4 percent.”
The housing sales increase is good news for broadline retailers and department stores. Analysts note that consumers who move into a home spend the first year furnishing it, which drives them to the store. For apparel brands, the challenge is to get them to buy clothing along with purchases of furniture, window treatment and other home goods.