US STOCKS-Wall Street advances on central bank comments, data

Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:30am EDT

* Durable goods data tops expectations

* Lennar posts revenue climb

* Walgreen slips after earnings

* Indexes up: Dow 0.49 pct, S&P 0.47 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, putting the S&P 500 on track to stem recent losses after comments from central bankers in the U.S. and China eased recent concerns about a credit crunch and an end to stimulus measures.

The People's Bank of China said it would not press banks too greatly in its efforts to curb easy credit as it sought to ease worries of a possible banking crisis.

The S&P 500 on Monday closed at its lowest level since April 22 after China's central bank said the country's banks need to do a better job of managing their cash and due to continued worries about a reduction in stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

But equities pared losses late in the session after two Fed officials downplayed the notion of an imminent end to monetary stimulus. The benchmark S&P index has fallen 4.8 percent since the Fed signaled last week that it may begin to lessen stimulus should its economic forecasts hold true, including a 1.4 percent drop the day of the announcement.

"Today everything seems to be calmed down - you've got every Fed President going out at every opportunity trying to assure everyone that they have overreacted," said Ken Polcari, Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

Housing-related stocks advanced, buoyed by a flurry of data that showed continued momentum in the industry's recovery. The PHLX housing sector index climbed 2.1 percent.

Adding support was data showing durable goods orders increased 3.6 percent in May, above the 3 percent forecast, the latest signs of a pick-up in economic activity.

Data from the Conference Board showed consumer confidence jumped in June to 81.4, its highest level in over five years, and above expectations for a 75.4 reading.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67.85 points, or 0.46 percent, to 14,727.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 7.47 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,580.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 10.12 points, or 0.30 percent, to 3,330.88.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of house prices in 20 metropolitan areas gained 1.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping forecasts for 1.2 percent, indicating the housing recovery continues to gain momentum.

New home sales data increased 2.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000 units, the highest since July 2008.

Lennar Corp climbed 3.3 percent to $36.13 after the No. 3 U.S. homebuilder reported a 53 percent jump in quarterly revenue as it sold more homes at higher prices, and said orders rose 27 percent.

Walgreen Co slumped 6 percent to $45.17 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after reporting weaker-than-expected results, citing slow front-end sales and a challenging economy.

Barnes & Noble Inc tumbled 13.3 percent to $16.32 after the largest U.S. bookstore chain reported its quarterly net loss more than doubled.

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