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Wall St rises modestly in early deals

Tuesday, May 13 15:54:33

U.S. stocks rose modestly today, with the Dow and S and P 500 both inching to record levels despite economic data that painted a mixed picture of the economy.

The S and P rose above 1,900 for the first time, extending its year-to-date rise to 2.7 percent.

Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, less than expected, though March's read was revised upward. Separately, April import prices fell 0.4 percent while export prices dropped 1 percent. Analysts were expecting both to have risen 0.3 percent.

"The retail number was weak, but last month was revised higher and there are few places to go other than equities in this market," said James Liu, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in Chicago.

"Even though we're at an all-time high, which is psychologically important, we're not especially overstretched from a performance basis, given our gains this year. There's still room for us to move to the upside."

Homebuilders were among the biggest gainers on the day. D.R. Horton Inc rose 1.8 percent to $23 while Lennar Corp added 2.2 percent to $40.11 and PulteGroup Inc was up 2.1 percent at $19.24. The PHLX housing sector index rose 1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 37.37 points, or 0.22 percent, at 16,732.84. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index was up 4.23 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,900.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 7.19 points, or 0.17 percent, at 4,151.05.