August 22, 2019 / 2:17 PM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street gains as retail earnings highlight consumer confidence

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* Nordstrom jumps after profit beat

* ECB eyes stimulus package as growth looks weaker

* Indexes up: Dow 0.50%, S&P 0.32%, Nasdaq 0.23% (Updates to open)

By Akanksha Rana

Aug 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose broadly on Thursday as strong results from retailers bolstered confidence in consumer demand, while investors look ahead to Federal Reserve Chief Jerome Powell’s speech for more clues on future interest rate moves.

Stocks pared slight gains after data showed U.S. manufacturing industries recorded their first month of contraction in almost a decade over concerns about the U.S.-China trade conflict.

Leading gains on the S&P 500 was Nordstrom Inc, up 9.6%, as it joined Target Corp and Lowe’s Cos Inc in delivering a quarterly profit beat.

Last week retail giant Walmart Inc issued a strong quarterly report, while solid retail sales numbers dispelled fears over a U.S. recession.

The retailing index gained 0.36% while the consumer discretionary sector climbed 0.34%.

“There is an ongoing feeling that U.S. consumer names are robust and that’s important to an economy that is slowing,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

The release of the minutes from the U.S. central bank’s meeting on July 30-31 offered little clarity on the Fed’s next move. The policymakers were deeply divided over their quarter-point cut in rates, but united in wanting to signal the move was not on a preset path to further cuts.

While traders are sticking to bets that the Fed will cut rates again in September, Powell’s speech at an annual gathering in Jackson Hole on Friday may prove crucial to short-term sentiment.

“The propensity for (Powell) to disappoint investors is out there but he will likely use Jackson Hole to suggest that the Fed is ready to cut (rates),” Hogan said.

At 9:47 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 131.52 points, or 0.50%, at 26,334.25, the S&P 500 was up 9.37 points, or 0.32%, at 2,933.80. The Nasdaq Composite was up 18.37 points, or 0.23%, at 8,038.57.

All the S&P sectors were higher with a 0.64% gain in financials providing the biggest boost to the benchmark index. The interest-rate sensitive bank stocks gained as the benchmark U.S. Treasury yields edged higher.

Despite coming back from last week’s bruising selloff, markets are still on course to end the month lower, mainly due to concerns over the U.S.-China trade war and its impact on growth.

The ongoing tariff war and fears of recession have prompted China and Germany to consider stimulus, with minutes from European Central Bank’s last policy meeting signaling more easing as soon as September.

L Brands Inc slid 11.1% after the Victoria’s Secret owner reported quarterly sales that fell short of estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.13-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.52-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 30 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 34 new highs and 19 new lows. (Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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