* HP drops after results, outlook
* New home sales fall less than expected
* Indexes: Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct (Updates to midday)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were slightly higher in early afternoon trading on Wednesday, boosted by gains in consumer discretionary shares and upbeat housing data.
The S&P 500 consumer discretionary index, up 0.8 percent, gave the benchmark index its biggest lift. Shares of TJX were up 3.7 percent at $69.65 after results, while Target rose 0.4 percent to $77.28 after a stronger-than-expected jump in same-store sales and profits for the fourth quarter.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to a House of Representatives committee provided few clues for investors on the timing of an interest rate hike.
“It’s a lack of anything negative keeping the market” up, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “The market’s in an uptrend until something displaces that uptrend and nothing from Chairwoman Yellen was a notable displacement of that uptrend.”
Single-family home sales in January fell less than expected and supply rose to its highest level since 2010.
At 1:15 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.54 points, or 0.05 percent, to 18,217.73, the S&P 500 gained 1.07 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,116.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.98 points, or 0.22 percent, to 4,979.10.
The Nasdaq was on track for an 11th straight day of gains.
Hewlett-Packard shares tumbled 9.4 percent to $34.88 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after the world’s No. 2 PC maker reported flat or lower quarterly revenue in all of its operating units and forecast full-year earnings well below analysts’ expectations.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,779 to 1,205, for a 1.48-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,498 issues rose and 1,135 fell, for a 1.32-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 was posting 55 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 100 new highs and 17 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)