Stocks Add to Big Gains as New Home Sales Crush Estimates
Stocks extend highs on Tuesday morning after new home sales crush estimates in April.
Keris Alison Lahiff Keris Alison Lahiff
Follow May 24, 2016 10:55 AM EDT

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Stocks extended highs on Tuesday morning after new home sales in the U.S. crushed estimates in April.

The S&P 500 was up 1.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.2%, and the Nasdaq climbed 1.6%.

New home sales surged 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 619,000 in April as builders increased construction to meet demand. Analysts expected an annual pace of 525,000. The reading marked the biggest increase in 24 years. The median price of new homes picked up 7.8% to $321,000 as supply remains constrained.

“Monthly new home sales are a notoriously volatile series, so we are reluctant to make much of monthly movements,” said Kevin Cummins, U.S. economist at UBS Investment Bank. “However, even smoothing through the monthly volatility it does appear the trend is moving steadily upward into the key spring selling season.”

Markets have been under pressure since last Wednesday when minutes from the Fed’s April meeting shattered the perception that the central bank wouldn’t be ready to raise rates until later this year. Few expected another rate hike as early as the summer.

Talk of a June rate hike continued on Tuesday, though. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker joined the chorus, arguing that the central bank could raise rate two or three times this year.

“Although I cannot give you a definitive path for how policy will evolve, I can easily see the possibility of two or three rate hikes over the remainder of the year,” Harker told an audience in Philadelphia on Monday. “If the data comes in and it’s not that consistent with my view of the strength in the economy, then I would pause, but otherwise, I think a June rate increase is appropriate.”

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A rate hike in June now has a roughly 30% probability, according to CME Group, after starting the month with odds of less than 10%. The Federal Open Market Committee’s next meeting is June 14-15.

Best Buy (BBY) fell 6% after forecasting a weaker-than-expected second quarter and announcing the departure of Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam, effective June 14. The electronics retailer expects second-quarter earnings between 38 cents and 42 cents a share, short consensus of 50 cents. Best Buy also expects full-year sales and earnings to come in flat for the year.

AutoZone (AZO) was slightly lower after a disappointing third quarter tied to rough weather in Midwestern, Middle Atlantic, and Northeastern states. The auto-parts retailer reported a 4% sales increase to $2.59 billion, though revenue fell short of consensus of $2.65 billion. Same-store sales rose 2% in the third quarter, compared to 2.3% in the year-ago period.

Toll Brothers (TOL) gained 3% after posting a better-than-expected second quarter. Profit-per-share rose to 51 cents from 37 cents in the year-ago quarter, topping estimates of 46 cents. Revenue surged 31% to $1.12 billion. Toll Brothers has benefited from a robust housing sector which has seen resilient construction growth despite a downturn elsewhere in the economy.

Western Digital (WDC) was upgraded to outperform from market perform with a $50 price target, Cowen analysts said on Tuesday. The firm said expectations are low and the company is expanding its total addressable market.

Deere & Co. (DE) was upgraded to outperform from market perform with a $96 price target at BMO Capital. Analysts said the company is underowned and is attractively valued.

Johnson Controls (JCI) was upgraded to outperform from neutral with a $50 price target at Credit Suisse. The firm said the move was a valuation call as the market is giving little value to an Adient spin and Tyco synergies.

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