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US STOCKS-FedEX, home sales data lift Wall St

* FedEx gains after shipper raises outlook * June home sales post largest percentage jump in 30 years * S&P 500 Index holds above key technical 1,100 level * Dow up 0.5 pct; S&P up 0.6 pct; Nasdaq up 0.6 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US] (Updates to afternoon; changes byline)

NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday after an upbeat outlook from FedEx and solid home sales data cheered investors, helping the S&P 500 hold above a key resistance level.

Shares of economic bellwether FedEx Corp FDX.N climbed 4.4 percent to $82.45 after the package delivery and business services company boosted its quarterly and full-year earnings forecast, a sign that demand may be picking up again. For details, see [ID:nN26199061]

The gains in FedEx pushed the Dow Jones Transportation Average .DJT up 1.9 percent.

“Really, it’s the earnings data and more so with FedEx that they are guiding upward -- right now that’s what people are looking at,” said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research.com in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

A surprising 23.6 percent jump in new home sales in June from May countered some disappointing data in recent weeks that heightened concerns the economy may slip back into recession.

The Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction .DJUSHB index gained 2.1 percent. The home builders' index was led by PulteGroup Inc PHM.N, up 3.8 percent at $8.99.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 52.26 points, or 0.50 percent, to 10,476.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX added 6.48 points, or 0.59 percent, to 1,109.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 13.55 points, or 0.60 percent, to 2,283.02.

The S&P 500 stayed above the 1,100 level after closing just above that level on Friday, which some investors feel is of key importance as it would pierce the top of the trading range the benchmark index had failed to break several times in the past month.

At mid-afternoon, both the Dow and the Nasdaq were slightly higher for the year to date, while the S&P 500 was within striking distance of break-even, as the indexes have clawed back from declines since late April closing highs.

“But even if it drifts above, are we going to get above previous ranges significantly? Is it going to convince breaking upward to give people some confidence?” Roberts asked.

The S&P 500 rose 7.8 percent during the three weeks ended Friday, the largest gain in such a period since the first week of August 2009.

Genzyme Corp GENZ.O continued to rise on takeover speculation as the top boost to the Nasdaq 100, as the Wall Street Journal said Britain's GlaxoSmithKline Plc GSK.LGSK.N had recently made "a very casual approach," to the U.S. biotech company.

Genzyme surged 7.6 percent to $67.28.

Sources familiar with the matter said on Friday that Sanofi-Aventis SASY.PASNY.N was sounding out Genzyme, prompting a 15 percent jump in the U.S. biotech company's market value to $16.7 billion. [ID:nLDE66P0JJ]

BP Plc BP.LBP.N is expected to install an American known for diplomacy as chief executive, replacing Tony Hayward who has come under fire for his gaffe-prone handling of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Bob Dudley, the U.S. executive managing the response operation to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is poised to get the top job in the next 24 hours, a move that could soften U.S. criticism of the major British oil company, sources close to BP say. [ID:nN26145842] [ID:nLDE66P0IF] [ID:nLDE66P0X9]

U.S.-listed shares of BP BP.N gained 4.4 percent to $38.47. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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