Stocks ended higher after giving up more than 30 points of gains Wednesday as investors shrugged off tepid reports from retailers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Averageended up 9.7 points, or .09 percent to 10,415.54 amid thin volume, led by Home Depot, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard . The Dow is almost back to positive territory for the year, although it remains down 0.12 percent.
The S&P 500 ended 0.15 percent higher at 1,094.16 while the Nasdaq ended up 0.3 percent to 2,215.70. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose above 24.
Most of the S&P sectors were higher, led by consumer discretionary, telecom and technology while energy and utilities were lower.
“We’re coming off of an oversold condition that we had last week,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. “Last week, the biggest negative was deflationary fears, so right now, we’re unwinding from some of that negative sentiment.”
Just before the close General Motorsfiled to sell shares to the publicin an offering that will allow the automaker to pay back some of its controversial government bailout. The offering is expected sometime in November, and will consist of both common and preferred shares.
Earnings were mixed: Deere reported better-than-expected results, thanks to strong sales for tractors and harvesters in the US. However, shares fell after the agricultural equipment maker warned that while sales in US and Canada should rise 5 to 10 percent this year, business in Europe will continue to be weak.
Target shares reversed an early loss after the retailer posted strong quarterly earnings. The figures were in line with expectations, and reflected a boost in sales of profitable items like clothing, and improvement in its credit card business.
BJ's Wholesale Club slippedafter the big-box retailer said full-year earnings would fall below analysts' estimatesas it expects merchandise sales to be less than its previous forecast.
Meanwhile, Chico's jumped more than 7 percent after the women's apparel retailer reported higher-than-expected profit as trendier fashion attracted shoppers and margins were boosted by exclusives at its outlet stores.
Shares of American Apparel continued to plunge following news that the retailer raised doubts about its ability to survive. The company also said that it received a subpoena from the US Attorney's Office in July, as well as inquiries from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the resignation of its former auditors.
Home Depot shares rose after Citigroup raised its price target for the home improvement retailer to $38 from $34. RBC, however, cut the retailer's price target to $31 from $33.