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The blue-chip average climbed for the fifth day in a row Tuesday, helped by stronger-than-expected retail sales data. However, slumping Apple shares took a bite out of the Nasdaq for the second-straight day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 27.6 points, or 0.2%, to 13435, the S&P 500 climbed 1.7 points, or 0.11%, to 1472 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 6.7 points, or 0.22%, to 3111.
Focus is once again shifting back to Washington, D.C. after a short lull in news from the nation's capital following the fiscal cliff resolution. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a note to Congress late Monday that the U.S. is likely to run out of borrowing authority between mid-February and early March. That doesn't give Congress very much time to negotiate a deal to raise America's debt ceiling and stave off several punishing effects, including a potential default.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called on Congress to act as soon as possible at an event hosted by the University of Michigan Monday. "It's very, very important that Congress takes the necessary action to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a situation where our government doesn't pay its bills," he said, according to Reuters.
Wall Street also got a round of economic data on the day.
Retail sales jumped 0.5% in December from November, topping the 0.2% expected. Excluding the auto component, sales were up 0.3%, slightly higher than the 0.2% expected.
"If today’s retail sales figures are to be believed, the fourth quarter ended on a stronger footing than previously thought," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG wrote in an e-mail.
"At the same time, given the changes in marginal tax rates and the removal of the payroll tax reduction, backward looking data such as these are even more backward looking than normal."
Inflation at the wholesale level ticked lower by 0.2% in December from the month prior, slightly more than the 0.1% expected, as food prices took their biggest fall since May 2011. Excluding the food and energy components, prices rose 0.1%, which was inline with estimates.
The New York Federal Reserve's regional manufacturing gauge fell to -7.78 in January from a revised -7.3 in December. The index was expected to rise to zero. Readings above zero point to expansion, while those below indicate contraction.
On the corporate front, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) slumped for the second day this week, weighing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Nomura, the Japanese investment bank, cut its price target to $530 from $660 ahead of the opening bell.
Oil futures were in the red. The benchmark contract fell 15 cents, or 0.15%, to $94.01 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.3% to $2.746 a gallon. In metals, gold rose $8.10, or 0.49%, to $1,678 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.28% to 2707, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.02% to 6109 and the German DAX dipped 0.19% to 7714.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 jumped 0.72% to 10879 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.14% to 23382.
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