* Retail stocks mostly up, but industrials sector slips
* Concerns remain over China, Italy's political stalemate
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 4 U.S. stocks rose modestly on
Monday as investors kept up a recent trend of buying on dips,
with equities recovering from early weakness despite concerns
about growth and China's housing market.
The S&P 500 has jumped about 7 percent so far in 2013,
resisting calls for a pullback even though there are few
catalysts to drive shares definitively higher. The Dow is less
than 1 percent away from hitting its lifetime closing high,
while the S&P 500 is 3 percent below its record close.
Concerns about "automatic" budget cuts in the United States
and the euro-zone debt crisis also have served as reasons for
investors to take a breather in the face of technical
resistance. Any sign that the $85 billion in cuts are beginning
to take a toll on the economy could jostle markets.
"The stock market still represents opportunity for
investors, especially when you look at the domestic market, but
it wouldn't be surprising if we pulled back on the concerns over
China and Europe," said Eric Teal, chief investment officer at
First Citizens Bancshares in Raleigh, North Carolina, which
manages $5 billion.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.44 points,
or 0.24 percent, at 14,123.10. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 5.68 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,523.88. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.75 points, or 0.34
percent, at 3,180.49.
Retail stocks ranked among the strongest after Deutsche Bank
raised price targets on Target Corp and Macy's Inc
. Target climbed 3.6 percent to $66.46. Macy's shares rose
2.4 percent to $41.65.
The S&P retail index jumped 1.3 percent.
Bucking the trend was J.C. Penney Co, which is
struggling to compete against its rivals, falling 4.6 percent to
Plans to tighten curbs on the housing market in China and a
slowdown in the growth of that country's services sector
prompted worries about growth in the world's second-largest
economy. In addition, China's services industries expanded at
the slowest pace in five months in February.
Among S&P 500 sectors, the industrial sector index
was down 0.2 percent.
Caterpillar Inc shares slid 1.9 percent to $89.65,
weighing the most on the Dow average. Alcoa Inc shares
lost 1.3 percent to $8.33.
Also weighing on the market, Italy could be inching closer
toward another election within months after center-left leader
Pier Luigi Bersani issued an ultimatum to anti-establishment
5-Star Movement boss Beppe Grillo to support a new government or
return to the polls.
Providing some support for the market, Janet Yellen, the
Federal Reserve's influential vice chairwoman, said the central
bank's aggressive monetary stimulus is warranted, given how far
below its full potential the economy is operating.
Hess Corp shares rose 4.1 percent to $69.28 after
the company said it will exit its retail, energy marketing, and
energy trading businesses. The company also boosted its dividend
by 150 percent and announced a stock buyback program.
Ferro Corp shares surged 31.2 percent to $6.82 after
A. Schulman Inc offered to buy the company for $563
million, although Ferro rejected the bid.