The S&P 500 bounced on Tuesday to end a four-day losing skid, as earnings from Best Buy and TJX Cos helped buoy retailers and consumer discretionary stocks.
TJX Cos (TJX.N) was the top boost to the S&P 500 after the owner of the discount T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains reported better-than-expected quarterly sales, bucking a trend of weak results by a number of retailers. Its shares gained 6.9 percent to $54.24.
The S&P retail index .SPXRT climbed 1.2 percent while the S&P consumer discretionary index .SPLRCD rose 0.9 percent as the best performing of the 10 major S&P sectors.
But U.S. Treasuries yields, although down from Monday, were still at two-year highs, encouraging investors to dump riskier assets like stocks to buy U.S. government debt. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note dipped to as low as 2.80 percent on Tuesday from 2.88 percent in the prior session. <US/>
Along with TJX, Best Buy and J.C. Penney also rose after they posted results. Consumer-focused shares had recently been battered as retailers that reported earnings earlier in the period had disappointed investors.
"Last week you got horrible numbers out of the retailers, so again it's a mixed bag - Nordstrom and Macy's are not Home Depot and Best Buy," said Ken Polcari, Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.
Investors have been grappling with uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve might begin to wind down its stimulus measures. On Wednesday, they will be able to study the minutes from the U.S. central bank's July meeting, which may provide clues about policymakers' plans for so-called quantitative easing.
"There is no real drive, there is no real commitment, there is no one rushing out to buy stocks, because they don't have to. The people are going to wait until tomorrow and Thursday at least before they make any big decision," said Polcari.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 7.75 points or 0.05 percent, to 15,002.99, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 6.29 points or 0.38 percent, to 1,652.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 24.504 points or 0.68 percent, to 3,613.59.
The S&P was unable to hold gains above its 50-day moving average, closing for a third straight session below the 1,657.65 level, which now serves as a technical resistance point.
But the Dow edged lower to extend its longest losing streak of the year to five sessions, weighed down by Home Depot (HD.N).
Shares in the world's largest home improvement chain gave up early gains to close down 1.2 percent to $74.29 despite boosting its yearly outlook. However, the stock is still up more than 20 percent for the year.
Shares of Best Buy (BBY.N) jumped 13.2 percent to $34.80 after the world's largest consumer electronics chain reported a higher quarterly profit.
Urban Outfitters (URBN.O) shares climbed 8.2 percent $43.19 a day after the apparel retailer's quarterly profit beat market estimates.
J.C. Penney (JCP.N) shares advanced 6 percent to $14.01 after the troubled retailer said the back-to-school season has so far been encouraging.
But Barnes & Noble (BKS.N) shares tumbled more than 12 percent to $14.61 after the book retailer reported a steeper quarterly loss and its founder dropped his plan to buy the company's stores.
Volume was light with about 5.24 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE MKT and Nasdaq, below the year's daily average of 6.31 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,327 to 714, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners 1,857 to 662.