* April retail sales rise 1.3 pct vs. est. 0.8 pct rise
* Nordstrom lower after fall in sales
* Apple bounces back after 2-year low on Thursday
* Dow down 0.24 pct, S&P down 0.18 pct, Nasdaq up 0.15 pct (Adds details, changes quote, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal and Yashaswini Swamynathan
May 13 (Reuters) - The S&P and Dow were struggling for direction on Friday as investors digested strong April retail sales data that seemed to contradict the gloomy earnings reports by department stores.
The Nasdaq eked out a small gain, helped by a bounce in Apple’s shares a day after they hit a two-year low.
The U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 1.3 percent last month, the largest gain since March 2015 and a bigger rise than the 0.8 percent economists were expecting. Core retail sales, which excludes automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, also rose more than expected.
But, consumer stocks fell after two more department store operators, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney reported lower-than-expected sales.
Nordstrom, like Macy‘s, also cut its full-year forecast, stoking fears of weakening consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
“The retail sales that we are seeing today is backward. I would put less weight on backward-looking data and I would put more weight on management’s discussion of guidance in the future, and that doesn’t look good,” said Mohannad Aama, Managing Director, Beam Capital Management LLC in New York.
“Investors are starting to build a mosaic of information suggesting that the consumer is not doing as well as you would expect.”
At 11:04 a.m. ET (1504 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 42.97 points, or 0.24 percent, at 17,677.53.
The S&P 500 was down 3.68 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,060.43.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.29 points, or 0.15 percent, at 4,744.63.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the telecommunications index’s 0.69 fall leading the decliners.
But, the biggest drag was the consumer staples index’s 0.4 percent drop, led by a 2.3 percent drop in Wal-Mart.
Nordstrom slumped 10.5 percent to $40.47 after its weak report, while J.C. Penney was little changed as it maintained its full-year sales forecast.
Nvidia was up 12.5 percent at $39.74 after it forecast better-than-expected revenue for the current quarter.
Shake Shack rose 4.4 percent to $35.77 after the burger chain raised its same-restaurant sales forecast for the year.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,524 to 1,286. On the Nasdaq, 1,311 issues rose and 1,222 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 13 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 45 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Yashaswini Swamynathan; Editing by Ted Kerr and Savio D‘Souza)