NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Overseas economic worries were pushed to the back of investors' minds on Thursday as Wall Street focused squarely on a rally among retail names and what a benign consumer inflation report might mean for the Federal Reserve's rate hike plans.
Best Buy (BBY) was spiking 6.8% after earning an adjusted 32 cents a share in the third quarter, topping analysts' estimates of 25 cents. Lifestyle retailer Williams-Sonoma (WSM) , a rare consistently good performer in retail, was surging nearly 9% after beating earnings estimates and reporting an 8.7% increase in comparable-store sales in its recent quarter.
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The S&P 500 gained 0.15% while the Nasdaq spiked 0.54%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered just above its flatline.
Bolstering sentiment for retailers, the consumer price inflation stayed low in October as gasoline prices fell more than 3%. The Consumer Price Index was unchanged compared to a forecast 0.1% fall. "Core" CPI, which excludes volatile items such as energy and food, came in as expected at 0.2% compared to 0.1% a month earlier.
"The outlook remains for a muted inflation outlook in the short-term," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers, in a report. "However, a focus on the medium-to-long-run, when the slide in crude oil prices has run its course, may leave investors nervous about an inevitable rise in cost pressures."
The latest reading could give the Fed pause as it mulls the return to normal monetary and interest rate policy. Over the past 12 months, prices have risen 1.7%, still below the Fed's annual 2% target rate.