NEW YORK – Stocks rose Tuesday, with retailer shares jumping after Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) reported better-than-expected preliminary June sales, but oil prices limited gains on concerns that higher fuel costs would shrink corporate profits.
The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average (search) advanced 68.36 points, or 0.66 percent, to end at 10,371.80. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) gained 10.55 points, or 0.88 percent, to finish at 1,204.99. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) rose 21.38 points, or 1.04 percent, to close at 2,078.75.
Wal-Mart raised its sales projection for June to the highest level since May 2004. That means "2 percent of the economy is coming out and saying their sales are better than forecast," said John Lynch, chief market analyst at Evergreen Investments. "That's the best news of the day."
Investors also latched on to the strongest increase in factory orders in 14 months. Although most of the gain reflected demand for airplanes and parts, the data also indicated that June orders may have been stronger than May.
Wal-Mart closed up 3.2 percent, or $1.52, at $49.80 on the New York Stock Exchange after the world's biggest retailer estimated issued a sales forecast that also said sales of general merchandise, which had lagged in recent months, were improving.
Other retailers gained on the news: Home Depot Inc. (HD), up 1.5 percent, or 59 cents, at $40.08 on NYSE, and Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD), up 1.4 percent, or $2.11, at $153.86 on Nasdaq. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) rose 94 cents to $54.05, and Gap Inc. (GPS) rose 44 cents to $20.26.
"If you look at Coach or Nordstrom, you can't say oil's made a dent in the luxury market," said Stephen Massocca, head of trading and president of Pacific Growth Equities. "And Wal-Mart's sales numbers are something to point to when we say higher oil isn't affecting the lower-income strata, either."
Crude oil futures rose on persistent fears that the heating oil supply would run short this winter and that aging refineries will have to push production levels to the limit. A barrel of light crude settled at $59.59, up 84 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange (search).
Wall Street sent stocks falling in recent sessions as crude hit new highs, but some analysts say investors are putting too much emphasis on oil prices.
"Energy is 10 percent of business costs," Lynch said. "Wages are a bigger concern; they're 70 percent of business costs." Investors who watch wages closely for signs that they're on the upswing are waiting for labor cost data in the second-quarter productivity report, which will be issued in late July.
General Motors Corp. (GM) gained 15 cents to $34.80 after saying it would extend its employee discounts offered to all buyers through Aug. 1. The incentives took GM's June sales to their highest monthly level in 19 years. DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) fell 38 cents to $40.10 after the company denied rumors it would issue a profit warning for the second half of the year and said its Chrysler division will offer a similar deal to the GM discount.
Shares in the tech sector also pushed higher, helped by Apple and personal-computer maker Gateway Inc., which said it received a hefty government contract.
Apple (AAPL) ended up 4.1 percent, or $1.48, at $37.98 on Nasdaq after J.P. Morgan and First Albany analysts raised their third-quarter earnings estimates on the maker of personal computers and iPod digital music players. Gateway (GTW) rose 6.7 percent, or 22 cents, to $3.49 on NYSE.
Semiconductor supplier Texas Instruments (TXN) gained 3.3 percent, or 91 cents, to close at $28.94 on NYSE. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange's semiconductor index shot up 1.6 percent.
The jump in oil prices boosted shares of energy companies. Dow component Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) rose 3.1 percent, or $1.83, to $60.14, and ConocoPhillips (COP), an S&P 500 component, gained 3.7 percent, or $2.17, to $61.27. Both trade on the NYSE.
Trading was moderate after the three-day holiday weekend, with 1.38 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, below the 1.46 billion daily average for last year. About 1.44 billion shares were traded on Nasdaq, below the 1.81 billion daily average last year.
The number of shares increasing in value exceeded the number declining by a ratio of about 11 to 6 on the New York Stock Exchange, and by about 2 to 1 on Nasdaq.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 10.19, or 1.6 percent, to 653.23.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.30 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.11 percent, Germany's DAX index was down 0.43 percent, and France's CAC-40 was down 0.28 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.