While you were sleeping: Home Depot, Tesla soar

Wall Street inched higher, lingering near record highs, helped by gains in shares of Home Depot and Tesla Motors.

In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.16 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index inched 0.07 percent higher, while the Nasdaq Composite Index eked out a 0.03 percent gain.

US Treasuries advanced, pushing yields on the 10-year bond four basis points lower to 2.70 percent.

Shares of Home Depot climbed, last up 3.3 percent, for the biggest gain in the Dow. Home Depot reported quarterly earnings that surpassed expectations and predicted the home improvement chain will benefit from this year's harsh US winter because home owners will need to do extra repairs.

"We know first-hand that many homeowners have some major repairs ahead of them which suggest we should have a great spring selling season," chief financial officer Carol Tome said, adding that sales at stores open at least a year were up so far in February, according to Reuters.

The latest US housing data were solid. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities rose 13.4 percent from December 2012 after increasing 13.7 percent in the year ended in November.

"The [index] ended its best year since 2005," David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. "However, gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over."

"The seasonally adjusted data also exhibit some softness and loss of momentum," Blitzer said.

A gauge of confidence among US consumers unexpectedly fell to 78.1 in February, down from 79.4 in January, according to Conference Board data.

The outlook for some US companies is very bright. Shares of Tesla Motors soared, last up 17.5 percent at US$255.63, after Morgan Stanley upgraded its outlook for the company, more than doubling its price target on the stock.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas boosted his forecast for Tesla's share price in 12 months to US$320 from US$153, according to Bloomberg News.

On the flipside, shares of Office Depot sank, last 10.5 percent lower, after the company posted a surprise loss.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index edged higher to end the session at 338.39. The UK's FTSE 100 declined 0.5 percent, while Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both fell 0.1 percent.

Turkey's Borsa Istanbul 100 Index dropped, closing 3.2 percent lower, amid increased calls for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign because of an alleged corruption scandal.

And in Ukraine, the hryvnia sank to a record as Russia warned Ukraine may default.

(BusinessDesk)

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