Trading was positive for most of the low-volume session with investors also enjoying a measure of relief after the latest eurozone gross domestic product data contained no ugly surprises. But the view that the improved U.S. economic data of late lowers the chance that the Federal Reserve will eventually provide additional monetary stimulus dampened sentiment as the day wore on, as did another weak reading on small-business optimism. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up nearly 3 points, or 0.02%, at 13,172, The blue-chip index stuck within a roughly 80-point range on the day, and is up 8% so far in 2012. Breadth was negative within the Dow with 17 of the index's 30 components moving lower. The biggest percentage decliners were Alcoa ( AA), Cisco ( CSCO), and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ). Cisco shares lost 1% with the company's fiscal fourth-quarter report looming after Wednesday's closing bell. Among the biggest blue-chip gainers were Bank of America ( BAC), Home Depot ( HD), Pfizer ( PFE), and Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT). Home Depot's stock rose 3.6% after the home improvement products retailer reported a 13% increase in second-quarter net income and raised its full-year earnings outlook. The S&P 500 dipped less than a point, finishing essentially flat at 1404. The Nasdaq slipped more than 5 points, or 0.18%, to close at 3017. The weakest sectors in the broad market were basic materials, capital goods and consumer cyclicals and technology. The health care, services and consumer non-cyclical sectors were finding buyers. Volume totaled 2.92 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.57 billion on the Nasdaq. Winners ran roughly even with losers on the Big Board while decliners outpaced gainers by a 1.5-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. Earlier in the day, Wall Street cheered after the Commerce Department reported retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.8% in July after falling by a downwardly revised 0.7% in June. The gain was the largest since February. Economists surveyed by Reuters were looking for a 0.3% increase.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished mixed Tuesday as a stronger-than-expected rebound in retail sales in July failed to fuel substantial buying.
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