- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed sharply higher Wednesday for a second day in a row as evidence mounts that the housing market is making a comeback.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 175 points to 14,075, its highest close of the year.

It’s up nearly 300 points in the past two days, putting it within 100 points of its record high, reached in October 2007.

Homebuilder stocks surged as more positive news about housing rolled in. Hovnanian soared 5 percent to $6.06, and Lennar rose 2 percent to $38.94.

A realty group said the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes jumped in January to the highest level in almost three years.

Three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was low, at 3.4 billion shares.