Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Tuesday, after the release of positive U.S. housing sector data added to signs of a strengthening U.S. economic recovery, although concerns over a highly criticized bailout plan for Cyprus continued to weigh.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.23%, the S&P 500 index added 0.20%, while the Nasdaq Composite index gained 0.28%.
Official data showed that the number of U.S. building permits issued increased to the highest level since June 2008 in February, while housing starts rose more-than-expected underlining the view that the country’s economic recovery is gaining momentum.
The Commerce Department said the number of building permits issued in February rose 4.6% to a seasonally adjusted 0.946 million, above expectations for a 2.3% increase to 0.925 million units.
U.S. housing starts rose by 0.8% last month to a seasonally adjusted 0.917 million, compared to expectations for an increase to 0.915 million.
Sentiment had weakened on Monday following news that a one-time tax was to be imposed on bank deposit holders as part of a EUR10 billion bailout deal for Cyprus.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in Goldman Sachs added 0.34% and JP Morgan climbed 0.46%, while Citigroup and Bank of America advanced 0.63% and 1.51% respectively.
Earlier in the day, Citigroup said it agreed to pay USD730 million to settle a class action lawsuit on behalf of investors who said they were misled by the lender's disclosures.
BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, rose 0.28% amid reports it is preparing to cut nearly 300 jobs, or about 3% of its workforce.
Adding to gains, aircraft manufacturer Boeing jumped 0.82% after technical workers voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the company, ending the possibility of a strike that could have cut production.
On the downside, drugmaker Affymax dove 55.83% after saying it was considering selling itself or filing for bankruptcy, as it struggles to stay afloat following the recent recall of its sole commercial product, the anemia drug Omontys.
Lululemon also trended lower, plummeting 4.43%, after the yoga-apparel maker said it will withdraw shipments of some of its women's yoga pants from its stores.
Among earnings, footwear retailer DSW sank 9.65% after its missed earnings and revenue expectations.
Elsewhere, the head of Valero Energy dropped 0.45% after saying on Monday his company is not pursuing a sale of its two California refineries, putting an end to months of speculation.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed to lower. The EURO STOXX 50 slid 0.44%, France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.62%, Germany's DAX shed 0.26%, while Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.15%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.19%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged 2.03%.
Investors were looking ahead to the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting on Wednesday after data on Friday showing that U.S. inflation was contained in February left the way clear for the bank to continue its asset purchase program.