Stocks move higher; Home builders gain


In this Wednesday, March 12, 2014, photo, specialists Anthony Matesic, left, and John Urrbanowitz confer as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Asian stocks advanced Tuesday, March 18, 2014, on stronger U.S. factory production and relief that sanctions imposed on Russia following the Crimea reference avoid its vital economic interests. European markets were down. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


NEW YORK — The stock market is higher following encouraging news on the U.S. housing market.

Investors were keeping a watchful eye on developments in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the Ukrainean region of Crimea as an independent country.

Home builders rose after applications for permits to build homes rose 7.7 percent in February, more than analysts were expecting.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,868 as of midday today.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 81 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,326. The Nasdaq composite rose 38 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,318.

GameStop sank 5 percent following news that Wal-Mart plans to expand its video game trade-in program to its stores.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.68 percent.