Home Depot profit beats expectations

Providing a positive signal for the housing market, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, Home Depot Inc., reported a better-than-expected fiscal-third-quarter profit Tuesday and raised its outlook for the year.

Among its upbeat indicators, the company cited continued improvement in Florida and California, both of which were among the states hardest hit by the housing downturn, as well as increased sales to professional contract customers, another key barometer of housing-market demand.