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US stock indexes edge mostly higher even as retailers sink

In this Nov. 13, 2015, photo, the American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(AP) -- Stocks wavered between small gains and losses on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday as investors weighed mixed earnings reports from big retailers.

A slide in Home Depot's stock dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower, but the Nasdaq and S&P 500 edged higher, inching within striking distance of setting more all-time highs. The three major U.S. stock indexes closed at all-time highs on Monday.

Stocks have been steadily rising for weeks as a mix of solid economic data and corporate earnings inject confidence into the market and diminished fears that a recession was imminent.

Technology, by far the best-performing sector this year, has done especially well as investors have grown more hopeful that the U.S. and China will make progress in ending their trade war. Traders hope the world's two biggest economies can deliver on plans for a "phase one" deal before new and more damaging tariffs take effect next month.

Disappointing earnings from Kohl's helped pull other retailer stocks lower Tuesday, which helped keep the market's overall gains in check. Energy sector stocks also fell as oil prices continued to head lower.

Bond prices rose, sending bond yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.78% from 1.80% late Monday.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was up 0.1% as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 78 points, or 0.3%, to 27,957. The Nasdaq climbed 0.4%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.6%

European markets closed mostly higher.

BAD CUT: Home Depot dropped 5.1% after the home improvement company reported weak sales growth for the most recent quarter and cut its forecast for the year. Rival Lowe's, which will report earnings on Wednesday, fell 1.7%.

RETAIL ROUT: Kohl's plunged 19% after the department store operator slashed its profit forecast for the year following weak third-quarter earnings.

Investors dumped stocks of other department store operators after the weak outlook from Kohl's. Macy's sank 10.8% and Nordstrom lost 6.4%. Both report their own results on Thursday.

BUCKING THE TREND: Not all big retailers were having a bad day. Shares in the TJX Cos., rose 1.9% after the parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls reported encouraging third-quarter earnings and raised its profit forecast for the year.

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