NEW YORK (AFP) - Better-than-expected retail sales data and healthy earnings propelled Wall Street to a positive close on Tuesday (Nov 16), soothing traders who feared inflation would wreak havoc on the United States economy.
Retail sales rose 1.7 per cent last month, the Commerce Department reported, the biggest monthly increase since March and defying predictions of a smaller gain.
Meanwhile, Home Depot and Walmart released results that topped expectations, with the latter offering reassurances it expects sufficient inventories for the holiday season and emphasising a cautious approach in passing on higher costs to consumers.
Traders have become preoccupied with the ongoing wave of inflation, which was thrown into stark relief last week when the government reported US consumer price inflation saw its biggest jump in more than 30 years last month.
The positive retail sales data undercut fears inflation would keep consumers from shopping.
Bokeh Capital Partners' Kim Forrest said: "It was good enough to get the market in the green because we know people are still spending."
At the close, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 per cent at 36,142.22.
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.4 per cent to end at 4,700.90, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.8 per cent to finish at 15,973.86.
Walmart closed 2.6 per cent lower despite reporting an increase in revenues and sales at US stores for the quarter ending Oct 31 and higher expected profits for the year.
Home Depot gained 5.7 per cent at the close after reporting a more than 20 per cent increase in profits compared with the year-ago period thanks to a jump in revenue.