NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged up in light trading on Tuesday after mixed economic data and as investors stayed cautious ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Friday speech.
Bernanke is scheduled to address a conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and market participants are waiting to see whether he will announce new measures to boost growth. The Fed chairman is expected to feed expectations for a third round of quantitative easing, though he could keep markets guessing about the timing.
Expectations for more stimulus have risen along with signs of slowing global growth. Japan cut its assessment of its economic expansion, citing a deceleration in U.S. and Chinese demand for its exports.
U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly weakened in August to its lowest in nine months as Americans turned more pessimistic about the short-term outlook, according to the Conference Board.
But in another report, the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas showed U.S. home prices rose for a fifth consecutive month.
The data supports the view that the Fed doesn’t have to provide more stimulus, said John Fox, co-manager of the FAM Value Fund, in Cobleskill, New York.
“Housing is getting better … there’s no question we’ve been in a recovery for over three years. The disappointment is in the speed of the recovery. That’s been the frustrating part.”
Volume was extremely light for a second day. Monday marked the lightest volume day of the year.
Among the day’s gainers, Lexmark International Inc (LXK.N) surged 13.8 percent to $21.63 and was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 after it said it would stop making inkjet printers, cut about 1,700 jobs, and focus on its more profitable imaging and software businesses. The NYSEArca computer hardware index .HWI rose 1.4 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 6.97 points, or 0.05 percent, at 13,131.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was up 1.74 points, or 0.12 percent, at 1,412.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 6.57 points, or 0.21 percent, at 3,079.76.
The S&P 500 has been pinned in a fairly tight range over the last three weeks, finding a support level at 1,400 while also unable to convincingly pierce the April high of 1,422.38, which has acted as a resistance point. The index has been unable to muster a move of at least 1 percent in either direction since August 3.
PVH Corp (PVH.N) raised its full-year earnings outlook for the third time this year as it expects its European business to grow and its flagship Tommy Hilfiger brand to remain popular with shoppers. Shares climbed 5.7 percent to $93.52.
Movado Group Inc (MOV.N) was up 16.9 percent to $35.19 after hitting an all-time high of $36.11. The watchmaker reported a higher second-quarter profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast for the second time.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)