Stocks gain after word on housing, Ukraine

U.S. stocks closed higher after some encouraging news on housing and on hopes that the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine won't escalate.

The S&P 500 index added 13 to close at 1,872 Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial average climbed 89 to 16,336. The Nasdaq rose 53 to 4,333.

Microsoft jumped 4 percent after Reuters reported CEO Satya Nadella plans to use his first big press event to unveil an iPad version of the Office software suite.

U.S. consumer prices tick up just 0.1 percent

Cheaper energy kept U.S. consumer prices in check last month, despite a big rise in the cost of food, the latest sign that inflation is tame.

The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in February, matching January's increase, the Labor Department said Tuesday. In the past 12 months, prices have risen just 1.1 percent, down from 1.6 percent in January and the smallest yearly gain in five months.

Still, consumers took a hit at the grocery store as food costs rose 0.4 percent, the most in nearly 2 years. Beef prices jumped 4 percent in February, the most in more than 10 years, as droughts have pushed up cattle feed prices. Milk, cheese and other dairy prices also rose.

U.S. home construction fell slightly in February

U.S. home construction fell for a third month in February, but in a hopeful sign, applications for building permits rose to their highest level in four months.

Builders started work on 907,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was down a slight 0.2 percent from January, when construction had fallen 11.2 percent. The declines have been blamed in large part on severe winter weather.

Applications for permits to build homes, considered a gauge of future activity, rose a solid 7.7 percent in February to 1.02 million units.

Viacom, Google settle lawsuit over YouTube

Viacom says it's settled its $1 billion copyright lawsuit against Google's YouTube bsuiness for disclosed terms.

Viacom filed the suit in 2007, claiming YouTube was aware that thousands of videos on its site were stolen from its TV networks such as Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

A judge ruled last year the online video site didn't have to police itself as long as it removed videos when copyright owners gave it notice.

Oracle's 3Q net income up 2%, sales rise by 4%

Oracle's fiscal third-quarter net income rose 2 percent, helped by higher cloud software subscription revenue, but the results fell slightly short of Wall Street predictions.

In the three months through Feb. 28, the business software maker earned $2.57 billion, or 56 cents per share. Revenue rose 4 percent, to $9.31 billion, as sales from new software licenses and cloud software subscriptions increased.

Weather fouls airlines' on-time performance

U.S. airlines posted one of their worst January on-time performances, as winter storms pounded parts of the country.

One-third of all flights arrived late. The rate of canceled flights was the second-highest ever, and reports of mishandled bags soared. The Transportation Department reported the numbers Tuesday.

There were 21 flights that were stuck on the tarmac for longer than federal rules allow, with most occurring during a Jan. 2 storm in Chicago. The government said 16 involved Southwest Airlines jets that took a long time to taxi from the runway to gates at Midway Airport.

Redesigned Android to power smartwatches

Google thinks it's time for an Internet-connected watch that performs many of the same tasks as a smartphone but with fewer distractions and interruptions.

The Internet's most influential company is trying to unleash a new era in mobile computing with a version of its Android software tailored for high-tech watches and other devices that can be worn instead of held.

The "Android Wear" operating system released Tuesday is an altered version of Google's popular software that powers more than 1 billion of the world's smartphones and tablets. The new software will run on an array of so-called smartwatches scheduled to be released later this year.

The Android watches will respond to voice commands such as "Ok Google" to play a specific song, send a text or make a restaurant reservation. It will also feature a virtual assistant, called Google Now, to learn a user's routines and preference so it can automatically show important information that can be seen with a quick look at the wrist.

Wire reports