NEW YORK – Stocks rose Tuesday, ending a six-session losing streak for blue-chips, as better-than-expected retail sales data bolstered investors' confidence in consumer spending and offset nervousness over sliding corporate profits.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 32.73 points, or 0.33 percent, to 9,924.15, while the Nasdaq composite advanced 10.17 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,000.91, a day after breaching the closely watched 2,000-point watermark for the first time since Jan. 2. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 index tacked on 7.78 points, or 0.68 percent, to 1,146.19.
"We had retail sales this morning, which at least gave early indication that the economy was stronger," said Peter Gottlieb, portfolio manager at First Albany Asset Management, adding that investors were nervously awaiting earnings forecasts from Corporate America.
The market flipped back and forth, in and out of positive territory throughout the day, as Wall Street braced for earnings reports from technology bellwethers like semiconductor giant Intel Corp. Stocks ended the session higher, breaking a six-day losing streak for the Dow Jones Industrial Average .
Intel after the close reported sharply lower quarterly earnings because of weak demand for personal computers, but both profits and revenues of the No. 1 chipmaker topped analysts' forecasts amid a bounce in PC sales over the holidays.
"People want to see what these bellwethers, especially in the technology sector, say about business going forward," said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean Murray & Co.
Fears that an anticipated economic rebound, expected sometime this year, might be later rather than sooner, kept investors from diving wholeheartedly into the market, Coolidge said.
Weighing on the market was Tyco International Ltd. , the most active on the New York Stock Exchange -- down $4.45 at $47.95. The conglomerate warned its current quarterly earnings would fall below Street estimates, putting a damper on an otherwise bullish earnings report that showed a rise in earnings.
Kmart Corp. remained a dark spot on the retail landscape, falling more than 13 percent as worries about bankruptcy increased following a series of debt downgrades, while the company's board of directors met to discuss the discount retailer's fate. Kmart fell 39 cents to $2.45, hitting lows unseen since the 1960s.
Sun Microsystems , the most active Nasdaq stock, ended down 53 cents at $12.53. Sun shares fell after a Wall Street brokerage house widened its view of the network computing giant's expected loss for 2002, citing an outlook for "lethargic" demand for the network computer maker's servers.
Shares of Intel, the No. 1 computer chip maker, fell 16 cents to end Tuesday's session at $34.68, and sagged further after the close.
Juniper Networks Inc. , which reported narrowing net losses but falling revenues after the bell, fell 14 cents to $17.96 during the regular session..
Market sentiment was lifted somewhat by a number of upbeat earnings releases after the close on Monday.
Rent-to-own store operator Rent-A-Center Inc. saw its shares soar more than 20 percent, climbing $6.47 to $37.46, after announcing it expects to report fourth-quarter earnings above analysts' estimates. The company raised its 2002 guidance, based on a rise in same-store sales.
Advance Auto Parts Inc. said it was raising its estimate of 2002 earnings as a result of strong same-store sales growth. The stock gained $3.11 to $46.01.
Sprint Corp. warned that fourth-quarter sales from its main local and long-distance telephone business would be lower than expected, and Sprint PCS Group wireless unit added fewer subscribers than forecast. Sprint fell 27 cents to $19, while Sprint PCS dropped 64 cents to $17.32.
A positive surprise came ahead of the open from retail sales data. Sales at U.S. retailers slipped a smaller-than-expected 0.1 percent in December, much less than economists' forecasts of a drop of 1.4 percent. The report from the Commerce Department said purchases other than autos also declined 0.1 percent in December, matching estimates.
Weekly data on retail sales were also upbeat.
"When we see retail sales hanging in there pretty good, it encourages me to think that maybe the consumer is still OK," said Jay Mueller, portfolio manager at Strong Capital Management Inc., which oversees $42 billion.
"On the other hand, I would hardly say that (stocks') valuations are cheap at this point," Mueller added. The stock market is already pricing in a fair amount of good news."
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was moderate.
The Russell 2000 index, the barometer of smaller company stocks, rose 1.97, or 0.7 percent, to 484.98.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Tuesday down 2.2 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 advanced 1.5 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 gained 1.0 percent, and Germany's DAX index declined 0.1 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.