* Apple extends losses to a third day
* Retailers advance after December sales data
* Debt ceiling debate, earnings worries hurt sentiment
* Indexes: Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq down 0.2
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Jan 15 The Dow and S&P 500 edged
higher on Tuesday after stronger-than-expected retail data,
though tech heavyweight Apple dragged on the market for a third
Apple was the biggest weight on both the S&P 500
and Nasdaq 100 after reports on Monday of cuts to orders
for iPhone parts. Shares declined 3.2 percent to $485.92 and
closed below $500 for the first time since February.
Retail stocks advanced after a government report showing
retail sales rose more than expected in December was seen as a
favorable sign for fourth-quarter growth. A separate report
showed manufacturing activity in New York state contracted for
the sixth month in a row in January.
"A little better-than-expected news on retail sales once
again reinforces that the consumer remains alive and reasonably
well," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney
Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, which manages about $54
billion in assets.
Among retailers, American Eagle Outfitters Inc
gained 4.8 percent to $20.58 and Gap Inc rose 3.4
percent to $32.46. The Morgan Stanley retail index
advanced 1.5 percent.
Express Inc surged 23.8 percent to $17.40 after the
apparel retailer raised its fourth-quarter and full year 2012
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 27.57 points,
or 0.20 percent, at 13,534.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 1.66 points, or 0.11 percent, at 1,472.34. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6.72 points, or 0.22
percent, at 3,110.78.
Apple's stock has lost about 7 percent in the last three
sessions and is down 8.7 percent since the start of the year.
"It's tough to discern exactly what's putting the pressure
on it. But at the end of the day, its influence, considering
it's still 3 1/2 to 4 percent of the S&P 500 index, is being
felt," Luschini said.
"I attribute (it) to just some of the bloom coming off of
the rose. They haven't necessarily done anything wrong, as much
as others have caught up."
Also keeping investors on edge is the looming debt ceiling
debate. On Monday, President Barack Obama rejected any
negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt
ceiling. The United States could default on its debt if Congress
does not increase the borrowing limit.
Resolving the debt ceiling is more a question of how than
if. Investors don't expect a U.S. default, but they are also
wary of another eleventh-hour agreement like the one in August
An expected lackluster earnings season, too, kept investors
from taking aggressive bets. Analyst estimates for the quarter
have fallen sharply since October. S&P 500 earnings growth is
now seen up just 1.8 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters
Homebuilder Lennar reported a sharp rise in
quarterly profit, but the stock declined 0.8 percent to $40.68
on worries that growth in orders was slowing.
Dell Inc shares added to Monday's gains, ending up
7.2 percent to $13.17 after sources said talks to take the
computer maker private are in an advanced stage.
On the down side, shares of Facebook dropped 2.7
percent to $30.10. The company unveiled a "graph search" feature
that CEO Mark Zuckerberg said would help its billion-plus users
sort through content within the social network and its content
Volume was roughly 5.8 billion shares traded on the New York
Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the
2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.
Advancers outpaced decliners on the NYSE by about 17 to 12
and on the Nasdaq by about 13 to 11.