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Wall Street steady; economic data offsets retailer results

By Caroline Valetkevitch

By Caroline Valetkevitch

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat late Tuesday afternoon as declines in Home Depot and other retailers following results offset upbeat U.S. retail sales data.

Home Depot <HD.N> was down 3.1 percent and was the biggest drag for both the S&P 500 and Dow. Although the home improvement chain reported strong earnings and raised its forecast, investors appeared to be worried about supply constraints in the housing market that could be a drag on Home Depot's future earnings.

Shares of smaller rival Lowe's Cos <LOW.N> were down more than 3 percent.

The consumer discretionary index <.SPLRCD>, down 0.8 percent, also took a hit from a steep fall in the shares of Coach <COH.N> and Advance Auto Parts <AAP.N> after the companies reported disappointing results.

However, data showed that U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest increase in seven months in July as consumers boosted purchases of motor vehicles as well as discretionary spending.

The data helped the dollar touch its highest level against a basket of major currencies <.DXY> in nearly three weeks.

"The retail sales numbers that came out today - that's nothing but good news. We have a positive surprise for this month and upward revisions," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.

"People are spending but they're not spending on the same things. From a company level perspective, there are winners and losers."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 12.63 points, or 0.06 percent, to 22,006.34, the S&P 500 <.SPX> had gained 0.35 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,466.19 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> had dropped 3.37 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,336.86.

The markets have rebounded in the last two sessions after a standoff between the United States and North Korea showed signs of easing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has delayed a decision on firing missiles toward Guam while he waits to see what the United States does, the North's state media reported.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.78-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.88-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 85 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Nick Zieminski)