US stocks edged higher yesterday, led by the financial sector as economic data pointed to a sustained if slow recovery from the recession, taking the Dow and the S&amp;P 500 to nine-month highs.<br /><br />The Nasdaq achieved its highest close since early October.<br /><br />US consumers spent more in June, though partly because of rising gasoline prices, and contracts to buy used houses rose more than expected. But income suffered its biggest drop in four-and-a-half years, underscoring fears over growing unemployment.<br /><br />The S&amp;P financial index rose 2.1 per cent as the housing data was a positive for the sector, while the Dow Jones Home Construction index gained 2.5 per cent.<br /><br />&ldquo;The one thing that&rsquo;s driving this market more than anything is the fear that as an investor, you&rsquo;re missing out on something big,&rdquo; said Angel Mata, managing director of listed equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets.<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average gained 33.63 points, or 0.36 per cent, to close at 9,320.19. The Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s 500 Index rose 3.02 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 1,005.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 2.70 points, or 0.13 per cent, to end at 2,011.31.<br /><br />Shares of Dow component <strong>Caterpillar</strong>, a heavy equipment maker, jumped 6.1 per cent to $47.89 after the company&rsquo;s CEO gave an upbeat earnings presentation and said that in future recessions, the company would be able to report annual earnings well above this year&rsquo;s forecast.