The Dow Jones industrials are back above 9,000 today for the first time since the beginning of January. A report of a jump in home sales eased investors' worries about one of the economy's biggest trouble spots. They responded by buying stocks across the market, lifting the major indexes more than 1.5% and sending the Dow up 150 points, past 9,000.
A real estate group said sales of previously occupied homes rose 3.6% from May to June. It was the third straight monthly increase, feeding investors' hopes that the overall economy is strengthening. Several better-than-expected earnings reports also helped boost investor sentiment. Ford surprised with a second-quarter profit of $2.3 billion, while drug maker Wyeth, cigarette maker Philip Morris, and candy maker Hershey all raised their profit forecasts. (Read more stock market stories.)