* Home Depot and Macy's rally after results
* Markets seek direction after rise to all-time high
* Consumer confidence falls more than expected in Feb
* Indexes up: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 25 U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday,
with the S&P 500 moving within points of record levels, as a
pair of retail stocks rallied following strong results.
Major indexes had traded lower for much of the session,
pressured by some disappointing data, but turned higher in
The S&P climbed to record intraday levels on Monday, but the
index pulled back in the afternoon and failed to close at a
record. The benchmark index is currently 0.5 percent under its
"We're not being aggressive, since valuations aren't
spectacular here, but this certainly isn't a time to run to
cash," said Rex Macey, chief investment officer at Wilmington
Trust in Atlanta, Georgia. "We expect we'll take two steps
forward and one step back for a while."
In the latest economic data, home prices rose slightly more
than expected in December, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller
index, but February consumer confidence fell more than expected,
dropping to 78.1 from 80.7.
The confidence report was the latest in a string of economic
data that came in below forecasts. While many analysts pin the
weakness to harsh winter weather rather than weakening
fundamentals, trading are looking for evidence the market's
levels are justified.
"We're waiting to see how much of this weakness is on
weather, since if the market gets spooked we could see a big
pullback," said Macey, who helps oversee about $20 billion.
"However, you look ahead to 2015, the market likes what it sees,
so we would view any pullback as a buying opportunity."
Home Depot rose 2.3 percent to $79.65. The Dow
component's earnings beat expectations, though sales fell more
than expected in the fourth quarter. Macy's Inc gained 4.9
percent to $55.65 after the retailer reported a drop in January
sales, though its fourth-quarter earnings rose from the prior
The S&P retail index rose 1.6 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 11.66 points,
or 0.07 percent, at 16,218.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 1.44 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,849.05. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 7.31 points, or 0.17
percent, at 4,300.28.
Many traders are looking ahead to Thursday, when Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak to the Senate Banking
Committee in semi-annual testimony about monetary policy. Her
comments will be scoured for insight into how bad weather has
affected economic activity, as well as for confirmation the Fed
will not change its schedule for trimming stimulus.
Tenet Healthcare Corp late Monday swung to a net
loss in its fourth quarter, though adjusted earnings were better
than expected. Shares fell 8.4 percent to $44.25.
Biocryst Pharmaceuticals Inc rose 12 percent to
$13.03 after the Food and Drug Administration accepted the new
drug application for its Peramivir product.
Sina Corp shares fell 8.9 percent to $69.29 a day
after the company reported adjusted earnings that beat estimates
by a penny, even as revenue jumped 43 percent.
Perry Ellis International Inc late Monday forecast
a fall in quarterly revenue, sending shares down 17 percent to
$13, their lowest level since late 2011.