Choppy US trading gives gains

US stocks rose for a second day yesterday in a choppy session, with technology and consumer discretionary stocks leading the way after upbeat earnings.

Sellers crowded around the S&P 500’s 50-day moving average for a third day. The level, now just above 1,328, is gaining strength as technical resistance and could prevent any rebound in the benchmark.

The market’s ability to sustain an advance ebbed and flowed with developments in the foreign-exchange market and fears over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

“Currency strength right now is the major mover of equity and commodity markets,” said Michael Yoshikami, president and chief investment strategist at YCMNet Advisors.

The broad S&P 500 was treading water throughout the morning after economic data failed to meet expectations, but once again found support once the euro stabilised against the US dollar.

The Nasdaq outperformed other major indices after NetApp’s stock was buoyed by strong results. The tech-heavy index also got a boost from shares of Microsoft, up two per cent at $24.67 after a prominent investor said its chief executive should resign. The company’s board stood by its CEO.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 8.10 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 12,402.76. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 5.22 points, or 0.40 per cent, to 1,325.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 21.54 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 2,782.92.

The best-performing S&P sector was consumer discretionary, helped by Tiffany, up 8.6 per cent at $76.04 after the luxury retailer reported its first-quarter results and raised its outlook.