RTTNews - Following an upward move after the opening bell, stocks are posting moderate gains in mid-morning trading on Tuesday amid some positive earnings results. The major averages are all in positive territory, although the gains have been limited by low volume and some disappointing economic data.

Trader sentiment was boosted early on by a number of positive earning reports, with Home Depot (HD) reporting adjusted second-quarter net income of $0.64 for the quarter, beating Wall Street estimates of $0.59 per share for the quarter. The home improvement retailer also raised its full year guidance.

Further, Saks (SKS) posted a second quarter net loss of $0.39 per share, while analysts had forecast a loss of $0.52 per share. Meanwhile, revenues came in at $561.70 million, which fell short of the expected $562.98 million for the quarter.

Target (TGT) also surpassed estimates, posting earnings of $0.79 per share for the second quarter compared to expectations of $0.66 per share. Revenue fell short, however, coming in at $15.07 billion compared to estimates of $15.14 billion.

After the closing bell today, Analog Devices (ADI) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) will release their quarterly results.

Upward momentum was stifled by the release of a report from the Commerce Department showing an unexpected decrease in housing starts in the month of July, with the data likely to lead to renewed concerns about the outlook for the housing market.

The report showed that housing starts fell 1.0 percent to an annual rate of 581,000 in July from the revised June estimate of 587,000. Economists had expected starts to rise to 598,000 from the 582,000 originally reported in the previous month.

In other economic news, the Labor Department revealed that producer prices dropped 0.9 percent in July following a 1.8 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had expected the measure to slip 0.3 percent for the month.

Core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, ticked down 0.1 percent in July. Economists were looking for core prices to edge up by 0.1 percent.

The major averages have given back some ground in recent trading, although they currently remain in positive territory. The Dow is currently up 45.34 at 9,180.68, the Nasdaq is up 8.86 at 1,939.70 and the S&P 500 is up 4.32 at 984.05.

Sector News

The major sectors are mostly positive, contributing to the moderate gains being shown by the major averages in mid-morning trading.

After seeing notable pullbacks on Monday, steel and airline stocks are on the rise, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index and the NYSE Arca Airline Index up by 2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The gains are helping the indices to offset the losses posted in the previous session, as they continue their zigzag movement.

Networking, gold, brokerage, computer hardware and semiconductor stocks are also on the rise, regaining some of their recently lost ground.

On the other hand, health insurance stocks are bucking the day's uptrend. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index is down by 0.8 percent, backing off of the ten-month closing high set in the previous session.

The pullback by health insurance stocks comes as the White House seeks to reassure supporters that it is still pushing for a public option as part of health care reform. Over the weekend, comments from some administration officials suggested that President Obama was giving up on including a public option.

Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments

J. Crew Group (JCG) is also on the rise following an upgrade from BMO Capital Markets. The broker lifted the rating to Outperform from Market Perform, while it also raised the target price to $35 from $25, citing growth potential. The stock is climbing by 6.8 percent, partly offsetting the loss posted in the previous session.

On the other hand, Corporate Executive Board (EXBD) is sliding after Deutsche Securities lowered its rating on the stock from Hold to Sell, citing overexuberance regarding the firm's earnings growth. The stock is down by 2.8 percent, backing further off of the nine-month closing high set late last week.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished on a mixed note Tuesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.2 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index fell 0.3 percent.

The major European markets are on the rise, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both advancing by 0.4 percent, while the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In the bond markets, treasuries are lingering near the unchanged mark as traders are evaluating their positions in government bonds. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.494 percent, posting a gain of less than a basis point.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com