* Apple retakes triple-digit territory, hits $100
* Retail shares soar on earnings reports
* July U.S. housing starts exceed expectations; CPI barely rises
* Dow up 0.46 pct; S&P 500 up 0.46 pct; Nasdaq up 0.35 pct (Updates to afternoon, changes quote)
By Akane Otani
NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose for a second straight session on Tuesday as upbeat housing market data and strong earnings from Dow industrials component Home Depot overshadowed lingering worry about the conflict in Ukraine.
Apple Inc shares were capturing a lot of attention after returning to the triple-digit arena, hitting $100 for the first time since its seven-for-one stock split in June.
Apple's stock, which gained 1.4 percent in heavy volume to just below its record of $100.58, contributed the most to gains for both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.
The Nasdaq added to gains after closing at a 14-year high on Monday, while the S&P inched toward its all-time high of 1,991.39, reached on July 24.
Consumer discretionary shares led advances in the S&P as a string of positive earnings reports lifted the stocks of major retailers. Home Depot Inc rose 6 percent to $88.66 after beating Wall Street's earnings expectations, marking the stock's largest percentage gain since May 2009.
The S&P 500 retail index shot up 2.1 percent, its biggest gain since Feb. 6. The index is up nearly 6 percent for the month so far.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.75 points, or 0.46 percent, to 16,916.49. The S&P 500 was up 9.08 points, or 0.46 percent, to 1,980.82. The Nasdaq Composite added 16.00 points, or 0.35 percent, to 4,524.31.
Encouraging data on the economic front provided another boost. Housing starts posted their strongest rebound in eight months in July, topping expectations and adding another data point to suggest optimism is returning among homebuilders.
That helped investors gain confidence in the face of continuing tensions along the Ukraine-Russia border. The standoff there has been a source of anxiety in markets for weeks.
"The market has enjoyed a retreat from geopolitical tensions, and we're seeing sectors that we were concerned about lagging, like housing and consumer discretionary, gaining, which is positive," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
"It's all reflective of a view that the economy, despite some of the weaker or mixed data, is continuing to gain momentum."
Quarterly results sent shares of discount retailer TJX Cos Inc up 9.3 percent to $58.91 and the stock of teen-oriented chain Urban Outfitters Inc up 3.9 percent to $38.37.
Dick's Sporting Goods shares advanced 2.8 percent to $44.72 after results topped forecasts.
In contrast to retailers' overall strength, shares of Elizabeth Arden Inc sank 24 percent to $14.95 after the company reported the biggest quarterly loss in its history due to a steeper-than-anticipated drop in sales of celebrity perfumes. (Reporting by Akane Otani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Nick Zieminski and Jan Paschal)