The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had risen more than 90 points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was the index's best-performing tech stock, though that wasn't saying much, as the Windows maker hovered near breakeven. However, tech stocks SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY.DL) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD.DL) experienced far more notable rallies.
Home sales come in better than expected
Perhaps helping to fuel the Dow Jones' rally, data released on Tuesday showed that more existing homes (as opposed to newly built homes) were sold last month than economists had anticipated. The National Association of Realtors said 4.59 million existing homes were scooped up in March, beating the projection of 4.55 million.
More existing home sales suggests that the demand for housing in the U.S. is increasing. A stronger housing market indicates the economy may be strengthening, in turn boosting the stock market.
Microsoft will soon make handsets in-house
Microsoft will finally close on the purchase of Nokia's handset business later this week, and then begin making Windows Phones in-house. The deal had originally been announced last year, but took until this week to obtain regulatory approval.
Microsoft will now be able to create integrated mobile devices -- both hardware and software; it believes this process will be capable of delivering superior results. Although there are a number of impressive Windows phones, Microsoft's overall share of the market has dwindled in recent years, and in the U.S., is only in the single digits. By crafting better devices, Microsoft may be able to turn it around, though it remains in distant third place behind Android and iOS.
SolarCity gets upgraded
SolarCity shares rose nearly 5% early in trading Tuesday. There wasn't any news in particular to explain the rise, but SolarCity is a volatile stock, prone to wild moves -- investors in the name should anticipate regular swings.
Last week, Baird Research issued a bullish forecast on SolarCity, giving it a $75 price target and arguing that shares -- at current levels -- were a terrific buying opportunity. Investors appear to be following its recommendation on Tuesday, snapping up the stock and sending the solar power company to the upside.
LinkedIn introduces new mobile feature
LinkedIn shares were up 1.8% in early trading after the company announced a new feature that in coming weeks will make it easier for mobile users to share photos with their LinkedIn connections. This may seem like a feature best reserved for more casual social networks, but LinkedIn argues that it will have professional applications, such as allowing applicants to demonstrate their work.
This mobile feature is particularly salient, as LinkedIn announced last week that it had passed 300 million members, and dubbed itself a primarily mobile company.