US stocks end mixed

Wall Street wandered through a listless session today finishing little changed as investors cast aside upbeat earnings at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. ahead of critical inflation and spending data later this week.

Wall Street wandered through a listless session today finishing little changed as investors cast aside upbeat earnings at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. Ahead of critical inflation and spending data later this week.

Strong results from Wal-Mart and Lowe’s came as a sign that consumers are still spending despite the recent spike in energy costs, brightening the holiday sales outlook.

A pair of multibillion-dollar acquisitions also helped the market’s mood: Georgia-Pacific Corp. is being taken private and Host Marriott Corp. is buying 38 upscale hotels.

But with key government data on inflation and retail sales due this week, investors are waiting for indications of whether higher costs are driving up prices on consumer goods, said John Forelli, portfolio manager at Independence Investments LLC.

“Now that gas prices have come down, there’s more confidence that inflation will be kept at bay,” Forelli said. “But I’m not sure the market is really going to believe that until the (Federal Reserve) said so.”

Forecasts for a cold snap in the Northeast pressured crude oil despite recent reports that US supplies are adequate for increased demand this winter. A barrel of light crude gained 16 cents to 57.69 dollars on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.13, or 0.1 percent, to 10,697.17.

Broader stock indicators were lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.96, or 0.08%, to 1,233.76, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 1.52, or 0.07%, to 2,200.95.

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