Nasdaq, S&P close at record highs as earnings beat expectations – – U.S. stocks surged higher on Wednesday, as investors looked ahead to pair of quarterly reports while better-than-expected housing data lifted sentiment.

In what was quiet day of top-tier economic data, investors cheered the release of better-than-expected housing data indicating a possible turnaround in U.S. homebuilding.

Housing starts jumped 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.22 million units, the highest level since February, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Economists had forecast activity rising to a rate of 5.8%.

The upbeat housing data was followed by an earnings report from Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) that beat analysts’ expectations on both the top and bottom line.

Shares of the Morgan Stanley closed more than 3% higher, after the investment bank reported

earnings of 87 cents per share on revenue of $9.5 billion, well above Wall Street estimates of earnings of 76 cents per share on revenue of $9.09 billion.

In other corporate earnings news, American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) reported earnings of $1.47 per share, above analysts’ expectations of earnings of $1.43 per share.

Alcoa Corp (NYSE:AA) and Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) are expected to report after US markets close.

It was the second-straight day that U.S. stocks ended at record highs, as bullish second-quarter earnings have offset fears that tax-reform could be delayed, as the Trump administration’s efforts to push through a bill aimed at replacing Obamacare suffered a setback, after three GOP senators said they would oppose the bill.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher at 21,640.75. The S&P 500 closed 0.54% higher while the Nasdaq Composite closed at 6385.04, up 0.64%.

‘Bulls and Bears’ on Wall Street

The top Dow gainers for the session: E I du Pont de Nemours & Co (NYSE:DD) up 1.6%, Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) up 1.3% and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) up 1.3%

International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) down 4.2%, Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) down 0.4% and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) down 0.2%, were among the worst Dow performers of the session. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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