NEW YORK – Strong profits from major retailers and an upgrade to Hewlett-Packard helped push stocks higher on Tuesday.
Sears Holdings Corp. and Tiffany & Co. raised their earnings forecasts. Sears said it could earn twice as much as analysts had predicted this year. Tiffany said brisk holiday sales would push earnings higher.
"Consumer stocks have been left for dead," said Matt Lloyd, the chief investment strategist at Advisors Asset Management. Consumer companies cut so many costs during the recession that any slight bump in spending "has a much bigger effect on margins," he said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. was among the leaders in the Dow Jones industrial average after analysts at UBS raised their earnings estimates for the computer maker.
The Dow rose 34.43 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 11,671.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 4.73, or 0.4 percent, to 1,274.48. The Nasdaq rose 9, or 0.3 percent, to 2,716.83.
Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. were the Dow's laggards. Verizon said it will start selling a version of Apple Inc.'s iPhone on Feb. 10, breaking AT&T's hold on the popular phone. AT&T had been the exclusive carrier since the phone launched in 2007. Verizon fell 1.6 percent to $35.36. AT&T fell 1.5 percent to $27.91.
Gains were spread across the market. Energy companies rose 1.6 percent to lead the S&P 500 index. Three of the 10 industry groups in the index fell, led by telecommunications companies. They fell 1.5 percent.
European stock markets jumped after Japan said it would buy bonds being issued to finance Europe's bailout fund. That would help send bond yields down and ease debt pressures on countries like Ireland and Portugal. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks blue chip companies in countries that use the euro, rose 1.1 percent.
Supervalu Inc. fell 11 percent to $7.59 after the supermarket chain said it lost money in its last quarter. Homebuilder Lennar Corp. gained 7 percent, to $20.24, after its results topped analysts' forecasts.
Bond prices fell, sending their yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.34 percent from 3.29 percent late Monday. The yield is used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages.
Roughly three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was 4.1 billion shares.
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