Encouraging quarterly results from Wal-Mart Stores, Home Depot and other big retailers helped nudge stocks slightly higher in afternoon trading Tuesday. The major stock indexes pared some of their gains from earlier in the day but were on course to close higher for the second day in a row. Investors also weighed new economic data on inflation, manufacturing and homebuilding.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,550 as of 2:04 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained five points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,058. The gain moved the S&P 500 back into positive territory for the year. The Nasdaq composite added 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,004.
THE QUOTE: A report showing that inflation ticked up last month could increase the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will begin raising short-term interest rates from historic lows as early as next month, said David Chalupnik, head of equities at Nuveen Asset Management.
“Historically, hiking interest rates would not be good for the stock market, but at this point it’s a psychological boost that the economy is self-sustaining enough that the Fed could get off the zero interest rate policy,” Chalupnik said.
HIGHER PRICES: The Labor Department’s consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in October after falling the prior two months. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, also advanced 0.2 percent from September and 1.9 percent from a year ago.
BETTER SALES: Wal-Mart Stores rose 3.8 percent after the company reported improved customer traffic and an increase in a key sales figure for the third quarter, even as a stronger dollar pressured its performance overseas. The world’s largest retailer also issued a forecast for the holiday shopping season that largely beat Wall Street expectations. The stock added $2.22 to $60.09.
SPRUCING UP: Home Depot climbed 4.4 percent after the home-improvement retailer reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue, and delivered an upbeat fiscal outlook. The stock rose $5.35 to $126.19.
BEATING EXPECTATIONS: The TJX Cos. rose 3.6 percent after the parent of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other stores reported better-than-expected sales at established stores in the third quarter. The retailer’s earnings also topped Wall Street’s estimates. TJX gained $2.38 to $68.03.
ROUGH QUARTER: Urban Outfitters plunged 7.2 percent after the retailer’s latest quarterly sales fell short. The stock dropped $1.63 to $21.04.
UNFIT RESULTS: Dick’s Sporting Goods slumped 11.6 percent after the sporting goods retailer reported worse-than-expected fiscal third-quarter results and gave a weak outlook. The stock fell $4.73 to $36.08.
SECTOR VIEW: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index were up, led by health care stocks. Utilities fell the most.
MANUFACTURING BELLWETHER: The Federal Reserve said that U.S. manufacturing output rose 0.4 percent in October, the first gain in three months, as factories cranked out more steel, cars and computers. The rise suggests that manufacturers may be overcoming challenges they have faced for most of this year.
DIMMED OPTIMISM: The latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slipped this month. Builders’ view of current sales conditions and their outlook for sales over the next six months also declined. Despite the decline, builders’ overall outlook remains favorable.
EUROPEAN ACTION: Markets in Europe moved higher, thanks partly to a report showing that business optimism in Germany rose more than analysts had expected this month, aided by strong domestic demand and a weaker euro. Germany’s DAX rose 2.4 percent, while France’s CAC 40 jumped 2.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 2 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Markets finished mostly higher on increased expectations that the Bank of Japan will roll out more stimulus measures in light of new data showing that the world’s third-largest economy has slipped again into a recession. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.2 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.2 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil dropped 84 cents to $40.90 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 78 cents to $43.78 a barrel in London.
METALS: Precious and industrial metals prices closed lower. Gold fell $15 to $1,068.60 an ounce, silver declined five cents to $14.17 an ounce and copper gave up one cent to close at $2.10 a pound.
BONDS & CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose held at 2.27 percent. The dollar rose to 123.41 yen from 123.26 yen, while the euro fell to $1.0637 from $1.0678.
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