The S&P 500 was up 0.6% in midday trading to 2,711.06.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to 24,894.58.

The Nasdaq climbed 0.8% to 7,063.25.

The yield on a 10-year Treasury bond fell 0.9% to 2.44%.

The price of gold ticked up 0.1% to $1,318.

HEALTHCARE

Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) in Irvine was up 2.5% to $114.32 and a $24.2 billion market cap. Evercore ISI initiated coverage on the heart valve maker with an “outperform” rating and $140 price target, contra yesterday’s downgrade by JP Morgan. Evercore said the growth outlook remains solid for Edwards’ core products used for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

REAL ESTATE

OC-based developers and home builders were up on moderately positive pending-home sales news and the expectation that the Federal Reserve will steadily raise interest rates through 2018; minutes from the Fed's Dec. 12-13 meeting were released today.

CalAtlantic Group Inc. (NYSE: CAA) in Irvine was up 3.3% to $59.83 and a $6.6 billion market cap.

Tri Pointe Group Inc. (NYSE: TPH) in Irvine was up 4.5% to 18.87 and a $2.8 billion market cap.

Five Point Holdings LLC (NYSE: FPH) was up 3.6% to $14.58 and a $2.1 billion market cap.

William Lyon Homes (NYSE: WLH) in Newport Beach was up 5.6% to $32.21 and a $1.4 billion market cap.

New Home Co. Inc. (NYSE: NWHM) in Aliso Viejo was up 1.8% to $13.29 and a $278 million market cap.

RESTAURANTS

BJ's Restaurants Inc. (Nasdaq: BJRI) in Huntington Beach was up 8.2% to $39.78 and an $821 million market cap. Stifel upgraded the casual dining chain to "buy" from "hold" and increased its price target to $44 from $32. Stifel, which initiated coverage on BJ's in October, expects increased same store sales this year.