NEW YORK – Stocks soared Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average back above the key 10,000 level, as Wall Street cheered a surge in sales of existing home and upbeat earnings outlooks from Qualcomm, General Motors and Williams-Sonoma.
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 177.56 points, or 1.78 percent, to 10,145.71. It is the highest level for the Dow since the second week of January.
The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index surged 45.34 points, or 2.63 percent, to 1,769.88 -- its biggest one-day percentage gain since Jan. 3. The sharp jump in share prices put the Nasdaq on track to close with its biggest daily percentage gain since Jan. 3.
The broad Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 19.59 points, or 1.80 percent, to 1,109.43, its largest daily percentage gain since early December.
"There are positives out there that you just haven't seen recently," said Barry Berman, head of equity trading for Robert W. Baird & Co. "The existing home sales data bodes well for other economic reports coming out later this week."
"The economy has turned the corner and is improving as I expect that we will see gradually the ratio of positive corporate news to negative," said Alfred Kugel, senior investment strategist at Stein Roe & Farnham, part of Fleet Boston Financial which oversees about $150 billion.
All market gauges pushed up through initial resistance levels, the point where sellers are likely to emerge, in a bullish sign for the market. The Dow blew through resistance at 10,050, the Nasdaq powered past 1,755 and the S&P ended abovethe 1,100 resistance level. The levels are key elements of technical analysis, which studies prices, volume and charts to ascertain the market's trend.
"A close over those levels should create the potential for a further move to test the recovery highs around 10,300 on the DJI (Dow), and resistance levels around 1,130 on the S&P and 1,850 to 1,875 on Nasdaq," said Richard Dickson, technical analyst at Hilliard Lyons.
Trading was heavy, with more than 1.66 billion shares traded on the Nasdaq and about 1.3 billion changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. About 19 stocks rose for every 16 that fell on the Nasdaq, while 19 gained for every 11 that fell on the NYSE.
Investors said the market's concern about corporate accounting is subsiding. Once it fades, "the focus will be on economic data, and the data continues to suggest we are in recovery and the recession is behind us," said Peter Cardillo, chief strategist at Global Partners Securities Inc.
Indeed, the latest economic numbers showed sales of U.S. existing homes soared by a record 16.2 percent in January to a pace of 6.04 million units, due to mild weather and rebounding consumer confidence.
January's pace out-ran the forecasts of analysts polled by Reuters, who predicted a pace of 5.25 million units.
"The housing market continues to stay strong despite the weak jobs market and that's really good news," Cardillo said.
General Motors bolted up $2.37 to $55.48, or almost 4.5 percent, after the automaker raised its estimates for first-quarter and full-year earnings and production schedules, citing better-than-expected sales in the United States. GM also said there were signs the U.S. economy is recovering from a recession.
"The fact that General Motors is giving a more positive outlook is also very positive for the market," Cardillo said.
Investors will be on the lookout for figures measuring the strength of fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product, to signal whether the economy has truly turned the corner.
Qualcomm rose $3.21 to $35.91. The wireless technology vendor reported better-than-expected demand for its cell-phone chips, easing jitters about the company and the industry's health.
Luxury cooking supplies retailer Williams-Sonoma, up $1.06 at $45.15, boosted its fiscal 2001 earnings outlook, citing cost controls and products that appealed to consumers eager to spend money on their living space.
Lowe's Cos. , the No. 2 home improvement retailer behind Home Depot Inc. , reported a jump in quarterly profit, as low mortgage rates and mild winter weather spurred sales. The company also said fiscal 2002 earnings would top current estimates. Lowe's shares rose $1.44 to $47.49. Home Depot, a Dow stock, added $1.07 to $52.07.
"We've had good economic numbers, but good company reports had been missing," said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer for Philadelphia Trust Co., which oversees $600 million. "This is a change in the right direction."
Sun Microsystems Inc. added 80 cents to $8.87. Banc of America Securities raised its investment rating on the network computing giant to "buy" from "market perform," saying the stock's recent pullback creates an attractive buying opportunity.
Tyco International Ltd rose $2 to $29.50. The beleaguered conglomerate said a federal court dismissed shareholder claims brought in 1999 and 2000 that the company inflated profits through accounting maneuvers.
The Morgan Stanley cyclical index , which tracks companies that prosper in tandem with good economic times, such as transportation firms, climbed 2.5 percent to 560.17, a six-month high.
Cyclical stock Caterpillar Inc. , which makes tractors and building equipment, advanced $3.38 to $56.06, boosting the Dow average.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners about 9 to 5 on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was light at 1.33 billion shares, below Friday's 1.40 billion shares.
Volume was also light all last week, an indication that investors remain guarded and that many are putting off big commitments to stocks.
The Russell 2000 index, the barometer of smaller company stocks, rose 3.12, or 0.7 percent, to 468.19.
Overseas, markets were mostly higher. In Europe, France's CAC-40 finished up 1.4 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 rose 1.0 percent, and Germany's DAX index climbed 2.5 percent. But Japan's Nikkei stock average closed down 0.6 percent.
Reuters and the associated Press contributed to this report.