Shares of Home Depot Inc. rallied 1.8% in afternoon trade Wednesday, to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average's gainers, in the wake of some encouraging data for the home improvement sector in an otherwise weak retail sales report. The stock was now within 1% of its May 16 record close of $158.26. Earlier, government data showed that sales at U.S. retailers fell 0.3% last month, the biggest monthly decline since January 2016. But within the report, data showed that sales of building materials and garden equipment and supplies--right up Home Depot's alley--were flat on the month. Year over year, the sales rose 10.8%, outperforming total retail growth of 4.0%. Among other retailers known for selling home-improvement equipment, shares of Lowe's Companies climbed 1.4% and of Sears Holdings Corp. ran up 1.6%. Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P Retail ETF slipped 0.5%, while the Dow gained 23 points, or 0.1%.
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