Stocks climb on upbeat earnings

A stream of good news has the stock market back on an upward path.

Encouraging corporate and economic reports Wednesday added to hopes that a recovery is taking hold even as big concerns remain about unemployment and bursting budgets in countries like Greece.

Deere & Co. and Whole Foods Market Inc. jumped after their profit reports topped expectations and the companies raised their forecasts. Improved reports on home construction and production at factories also helped pull the market higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40 points a day after it jumped 170 following a stronger manufacturing figures. Treasury prices fell as demand for safe havens eased.

Stocks had fallen in recent weeks on overseas concerns, including Greece’s debt crisis and moves by China to keep its economy from growing too fast. The concerns remain but traders have been able to turn attention to the domestic economy.

The Commerce Department said construction of homes and apartments rose to an annual rate of 591,000 in January, better than the 580,000 units forecast by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

A collapse of the housing market helped push the economy into recession, but recent reports have suggested the market is stabilizing. Applications for building permits, a barometer of future activity, fell 4.9 percent. A drop was expected after two months of big growth.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, said production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities rose 0.9 percent last month. It was the seventh straight month of growth and better than the 0.6 percent gain forecast by economists.

Investors also drew reassurance from a brighter assessment of the economy from the Fed. Minutes released from the central bank’s last meeting suggest that policymakers remain cautious but that they expect stubborn unemployment rates will begin to fall next year.

Even with two days of gains, concerns remain. Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management in Hamilton, N.J., said there is still an underlying sense of unease in the market despite the gains of the past two days.

“From day to day there’s no one boogeyman or no one exciting thing,” Kamen said. “People age getting neck strain spinning their head from side to side looking at all the different pieces of information.”

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 40.43, or 0.4 percent, to 10,309.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.64, or 0.4 percent, to 1,099.51, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 12.10, or 0.6 percent, to 2,226.29.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.