Stocks extend gains on Wall Street; Walmart lifts Dow

Stocks are higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday as investors cautiously review mostly encouraging financial results from major retailers.

The S&P; 500 rose 0.5% as of 1:55 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 314 points, or 0.9%, to 34,226 and the Nasdaq was up 0.1%.

Walmart jumped 6% and after the nation’s largest retailer reported strong results that easily topped analysts’ forecasts. Home Depot rose 5.1% after also reporting better-than-expected results. The gains from both companies did much of the heavy lifting for the Dow.

Retailers and consumer product makers made solid gains, along with banks and industrial companies.

Technology, health care and energy stocks fell, limiting some of the broader market’s advance. Broadcom fell 0.8%, Moderna slid 4.1% and Marathon Oil fell 1.8%.

Bond yields gained ground. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.83% from 2.79% late Monday.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 3.5%. European markets were broadly higher and Asian markets closed mixed overnight.

Consumers are facing the hottest inflation in 40 years and the latest results from retailers show that spending remains solid. Wall Street has been concerned that higher prices on everything from food to clothing could eventually stunt the economy’s main engine of growth, consumer spending. Investors will get more updates on the retail sector this week, when Target reports its results on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department releases its July retail sales report on Wednesday. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect modest 0.2% growth from June, when sales rose 1%.

The retail reports are capping off the latest round of corporate earnings, which have been closely watched by investors trying to determine inflation’s impact on businesses and consumers, while trying to gauge how Federal Reserve will react. The central bank is raising interest rates in an effort to slow down economic growth and rein in inflation, though it risks hitting the brakes too hard and veering the economy into a recession.

Investors are looking for any signs that inflation is peaking or cooling in the hopes that the Fed could ease its aggressive rate hike policy. The central bank in July raised its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a point for a second straight time. On Wednesday, Wall Street will get more details on the process behind that decision when the Fed releases minutes from that meeting.

Investors currently expect a half-point increase at the Fed’s upcoming meeting in August, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

Stocks had their best month in a year-and-a-half in July and the winning streak has been continuing into August partially on hopes that inflation is easing. The latest government report on consumer prices showed that inflation essentially stalled from June to July.

Still, trading has been choppy, with major indexes swaying between gains and losses throughout each day.

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