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Stocks inch higher to break four-day decline

Stocks closed mostly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, breaking four straight days of losses. Bond yields pulled back, relieving investors and pushing stocks upward.

By Ken SweetAP Markets Writer / August 20, 2013

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. Stocks were higher on Wall Street Tuesday after four days of declines.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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New York

Better results from Best Buy and other U.S. retailers helped the stock market close mostly higher Tuesday.

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Bond yields, which had been rising sharply for the last several days, pulled back, bringing relief to investors worried about higher interest rates.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended a four-day losing streak. the Dow Jones industrial average, however, ended with a small loss after being up for most of the day. That extended the Dow's string of losses to five, the longest of the year. The Dow was held back by weakness in Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson.

The mostly higher finish failed to shake the market out of a slump it's been in since early August, when investors became discouraged by poor corporate earnings and a sharp increase in interest rates. The Dow has lost 4 percent since hitting an all-time high on Aug. 2 and is headed for its worst month since May 2012. 

The S&P 500 index rose 6.29 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,652.35 points and the Nasdaq composite rose 24.50 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,613.59.

The Dow fell 7.75 points, or 0.05 percent, to 15,002.99.

Small-company stocks rose far more than the rest of the market, a sign that investors are more comfortable taking on risk. The Russell 2000 index jumped 15.32 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,028.57.

Best Buy and Urban Outfitters rose sharply, leading the retail sector higher.

Best Buy jumped $4.07, or 13.2 percent, to $34.80, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The electronics retailer said it earned 32 cents per share in the last three months, much better than the 12 cents per share financial analysts expected. Most of the growth came from cutting costs and focusing on online sales.

Urban Outfitters jumped $3.27, or 8.2 percent, to $43.19. The Philadelphia-based teen retailer reported a 25 percent surge in second-quarter income as sales rose across nearly all its brands.

The better news from retailers was a respite for investors, who have spent the last week and a half getting disappointing earnings and sales outlooks from some of the nation's largest store chains. Wal-Mart, Macy's, Kohl's and Saks all cut their sales forecasts, raising worries that the American consumer might be cutting back.

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