Mixed retail earnings keep stock gains in check

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 9:30 am •  Published: November 15, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are inching higher in early trading Thursday after two giant U.S. retailers turned in mixed earnings reports.

Wal-Mart's stock dropped $3.37 to $67.94 after the retailer issued a weak forecast for fourth-quarter profits. Target's profit rose but the company also said sales increased at a slower pace than last year. Target's stock edged up less than 1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average moved between small gains and losses shortly after the opening bell. As of 10 a.m. it was up seven points at 12,582. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up three points at 1,358 and the Nasdaq composite was up three at 2,850.

Stocks have fallen since the Presidential election last week, when voters returned President Barack Obama and a divided Congress to power. Concern that political wrangling will stop lawmakers from reaching a deal on reducing the budget deficit has prompted the selling. The Dow lost 5 percent from Election Day, Nov. 6, through Wednesday's close.

A series of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts will go into effect Jan. 1 unless Obama and Congress reach a deal first. The impact would total $700 billion for 2013 and could send the country back into recession.