Retailers pick up during light Wall St trading

US stocks ended little changed yesterday in what investors described as a fatigued market after the S&P 500 rose in seven of the past eight sessions.

Retailers were a notable standout after Home Depot raised its profit forecast due to improvement in the housing market and US retail sales data that was stronger than expected, though earlier figures were revised lower. The S&P Retail Index rose 0.9 per cent, giving an early boost to the market.

But with the S&P 500 up 12 per cent so far this year, gains came off by the afternoon. In the last five sessions, the S&P has not moved more than 0.22 per cent in either direction and volume has declined in what is normally a seasonally slow period. It is within a stone’s throw of new four-year highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 2.71 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 13,172.14. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 0.18 point, or 0.01 per cent, at 1,403.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 5.54 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 3,016.98.

Estee Lauder jumped 9.3 per cent to $60.13 after the cosmetics and fragrance maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and forecast more sales growth this year.

But Groupon tumbled 27 per cent to $5.51 after the world’s largest online provider of daily deals missed quarterly revenue expectations and gave a cautious profit outlook.

The 5.16bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq was well below last year’s daily average of 7.84bn.