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Stocks edge up after earnings gains from retailers

Ken Sweet, AP Markets Writer

Trader Thomas Donato, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Stocks are lower in early trading on Wall Street as traders pick over some disappointing corporate earnings. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks edged higher Tuesday as investors digested another round of corporate earnings, this time from retailers including Home Depot and the parent company of T.J. Maxx.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,009 in the first hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,793 and the Nasdaq composite rose 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,958.

Retailers were a key focus for investors Tuesday, especially with the holiday shopping season coming up. Home Depot rose the most in the Dow, gaining $1.61, or 2 percent, to $81.28. The home improvement chain reported earnings that surpassed what investors were expecting and raised its earnings forecast for the year.

TJX Cos., which operates discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, climbed $1.21, or 2 percent, to $63.70. Its income climbed 35 percent as sales improved at both U.S. and international stores.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 hit round-number milestones Monday. The Dow crossed 16,000 and the S&P 500 hit 1,800 points for the first time. Neither index closed above those levels, however.

The S&P 500 is up 26 percent so far in 2013 and has risen for six weeks straight, the longest winning streak since February. The extended run-up has prompted a number of market watchers to call for caution.

"We've had a phenomenal run, particularly in the last few weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if we would pull back from here," said Alec Young, global equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ.

Young said the next things to watch for will be the Senate's confirmation of Janet Yellen as the new head of the Federal Reserve, which is expected to happen Thursday.

There's also Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. U.S. consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so how consumers behave during the closely watched holiday season will be important for investors.

Investors are also watching JPMorgan Chase. The Justice Department and JPMorgan have reportedly reached a $13 billion agreement, tied to several lawsuits and settlements over the bank's mortgage-backed securities business. The agreement could be announced as early as Tuesday. JPMorgan rose 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $56.42.

Among other stocks making big moves, Best Buy sank $3.81, or 9 percent, to $39.73. The Minneapolis-based company warned that competition from online electronics retailers was going to further squeeze its profit margins.