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Stocks tick higher as Walmart and retailers boom

WASHINGTON (Foxnews): U.S. equity markets were modestly higher Tuesday as investors assessed disappointing housing data and earnings reports from several retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 48 points, or 0.14%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.13% and 0.28%, respectively.

Futures pared their gains after the latest housing starts and building permits data fell short of Wall Street estimates.

Housing starts declined 9.5% in April to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.569 million, missing the 1.71 million that was expected. The sharper-than-expected drop came as costs for lumber, copper and other materials soared. Building permits, meanwhile, ticked up 0.3% to 1.76 million. 

In stocks, Walmart Inc. raised its full-year profit forecast as another batch of stimulus checks boosted same-store sales. The retailer said online sales rose 37% from a year ago.  

Home Depot Inc. said sales at stores open at least a year soared 31% year over year, the most on record, as Americans continued to make home improvements amid the pandemic. The company declined to give a forecast for the rest of the year.

Macy’s Inc. reported a surprise quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook as shoppers returned to stores and continued to buy items online. The department store said demand for home goods, fine jewelry and watches, fragrance and luxury items was strong.

Elsewhere, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 4.1 million shares of Aon plc, last quarter, making it the conglomerate’s newest holding. Berkshire also sold half of its Chevron Corp. holdings and reduced its positions in financial firms Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp.

In deals, Amazon Inc. is reportedly in talks to buy MGM Holdings’ film studio for between $7 billion and $9 billion.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil lost 10 cents to $66.17 per barrel while gold ticked up $1 to $1,868.60 per ounce.

Overseas markets were mixed.

Britain’s FTSE 100 outperformed in Europe, gaining 0.24%, while Germany’s DAX 30 and France’s CAC 40 both slipped fractioanlly.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 2.09%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.42% and China’s Shanghai Composite edged up 0.32%.