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US stocks struggle for direction as investors digest data, earnings

US stocks struggled to extend their gains from the previous session on Tuesday as investors digested upbeat economic data and a mixed batch of results.

A day after clocking its best day since April, the S&P 500 wavered between minor gains and losses and was down 1 points at 2,464.82 by mid-morning in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also largely unchanged at 21,998.44 while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.1 per cent to 6,336.89.

The lacklustre moves come after a mixed batch of results that showed companies like home improvement store Home Depot, and off-price chain TJX Cos posting better-than-expected results and bucking the retail pain, while those like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Coach slipped after disappointing markets.

Investors also digested a batch of upbeat economic data that showed US retail sales increasing in July by the fastest clip since December. A separate survey of manufacturers in the New York region saw the gauge hitting its highest level in nearly 3 years while homebuilder confidence rose by more than expected in August. The data could strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates for a third time this year.

The data helped send the US dollar sharply higher and Treasury yields climbing. The dollar index, a gauge of the buck against a basket of peers, surging as much as 0.7 per cent to 94.14 to its highest level in nearly 2 weeks. Meanwhile, the yield on the US 10-year, which moves inversely to price, rose 3.9 basis points to 2.257 per cent.