Stocks Edge Up Following Retail, Inflation Reports

By KEN SWEET
AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks were mostly higher Friday after the government reported a moderate increase in retail sales in August and tame inflation.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 46 points after an hour of trading, or 0.3 percent, to 15,347. The Dow got a lift from Intel. Analysts at Jefferies & Co. said the company is poised to gain market share with power-efficient chips. Intel rose 62 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $23.25.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose a point to 1,685. The Nasdaq composite index was down 7 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,709, pulled lower by Apple.

Traders had a few economic reports to work through. The Commerce Department said Americans increased their spending modestly in August, roughly 0.2 percent, half of what economists expected.

The report was a mixed bag. Consumers spent more on cars, electronics and furniture, but they didn't buy much else. Last month, several retail chains including Nordstrom, Macy's and Wal-Mart cut their profit forecasts for the year.

The government also reported that wholesale prices rose 0.3 percent last month. Over the past year, prices have only gained 1.4 percent, a sign that inflation remains modest. One thing driving wholesale prices higher was energy, which spiked as a conflict with Syria appeared likely.

Trading is expected to be light Friday as Wall Street heads into the weekend and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur starts at sundown.

Investors are also waiting for the Federal Reserve's policy meeting next week, where the central bank is expected to decide the fate of its bond-buying program. The bank currently buys $85 billion in bonds each month, and the consensus among investors is the Fed will decide to reduce its buying to about $75 billion or $80 billion.

September has been very strong for stocks so far. The Dow is up 3.6 percent in September and the S&P 500 is up 3.3 percent.

In corporate news, Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrances surged as the company's fiscal second-quarter profit jumped 28 percent on stronger sales at its growing chain of beauty product stores. The stock jumped $16.32, or 16 percent, to $116.30.

Galena Biopharma plunged nearly 17 percent to $1.91 after the company sold 17.5 million shares of stock at $2 per share.

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