Wall Street ticked higher on Monday as retailers' shares rose on data for the key holiday shopping season that indicated improved consumer spending while rising commodity prices lifted the natural resource sector.
Sales at U.S. retailers rose 3.6 percent for the period from November 1 to Christmas Eve, but rose only 1 percent when an extra shopping day this year was excluded, data from MasterCard Advisors unit SpendingPulse showed. Macy's Inc
The holiday sales numbers that came out were encouraging, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. Whatever they got on the upside was nice -- it was more of a concern that if the number was disappointing it would sell off.
But gains were curbed by a decline in airline stocks, which fell as the United States tightened airline security after a Nigerian man smuggled explosives aboard a transatlantic flight and attempted to blow up the plane.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 11.26 points, or 0.11 percent, to 10,531.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> inched up just 0.48 of a point, or 0.04 percent, to 1,126.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 5.15 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,290.84.
Volume was expected to be light in another holiday-shortened week. The S&P 500 is up nearly 25 percent for the year, and investors are carefully placing bets to make sure they don't erode profits.
U.S. oil futures rose 1 percent, or 74 cents, to $78.79 a barrel, after earlier climbing to $79.12, its highest intraday level since Nov 23. Energy shares gained in sync with oil prices. The PHLX Oil Service index <.OSX> advanced 0.6 percent.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)