NEW YORK, Mar. 30 -- U.S. stocks overcame weak economic data to advance on Tuesday with basic materials and energy shares gaining a lot.
Stocks opened lower on Tuesday after the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index said that house prices declined in 19 of the 20 largest U.S. cities. Washington was the only city in which prices were up.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer- confidence index dropped to 63.4 in March from a revised 72.0 in February, the biggest one-month decline in more than a year.
The nonprofit organization said a slow pace of hiring, meager wage increases and rising prices of gas and food are the biggest concerns of consumers.
Weak economic data on Tuesday did not overshadow investors' sentiments. Energy and basic material shares were the best performers on Tuesday, rising 1.28 percent as investors expected that the high rebuilding cost after Japan's disaster will lead to great demand on the basic material sector.
Meanwhile, energy shares became one of the best winners on Tuesday as oil prices rebounded.
As the first quarter was ending and uncertainties still remained in quake-hit Japan, as well as turmoil in Middle East and North Africa, investors were waiting for clear signals to guide their investing activities. The trading volume was thin on Tuesday.
The CBOE Volatility Index, which was considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 19 on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 81.13 points, or 0.67 percent, at 12279.01. The Standard & Poor's advanced 9.25 points, or 0.71 percent, at 1319.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26. 21 points, or 0.96 percent, at 2756.89.