Stocks Trading in a Zig-zag on Economic Data

U.S. stocks made a tentative advance on Wednesday morning as investors sifted through an uneven series of economic reports that gave little reason for either bulls or bears to come off the sidelines. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately was down 8.21 points, or 0.06%, at 13,163.93. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 0.84 point, or 0.06%, to 1,404.77. and the Nasdaq Composite gained 10.60 points, or 0.35%, to 3,027.58.

U.S. homebuilders grew more confident in the housing recovery in August, as many reported that prospects for sales are the best they’ve been since the home bubble burst five years ago. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday rose two points this month to 37, up from 35 in July. That’s the highest reading since March 2007.

Industrial production picked up in July after two months of slight growth, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday in the latest reading that shows the economy in the third quarter got off to a decent start. Industrial production rose 0.6% in July after slender 0.1% monthly gains in May and June, the Fed said. The Fed had previously reported a 0.4% gain in June and a 0.2% drop in May.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July, as lower energy prices offset gains in the cost of food and other items, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. In the 12 months to July the CPI rose 1.4 percent, the smallest rise since November 2010 and slowing from June’s 1.7 percent rise, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Deere says its third-quarter net income rose 11 percent but fell well short of expectations, hit hard by a weakening global economy and prolonged drought in the U.S.  It earned $788 million, or $1.98 per share for the quarter ended July 31, compared with $712.3 million, or $1.69 per share for the same period last year. Revenue rose 15 percent to $9.59 billion.

The Carlyle Group plans to buy a controlling stake in the photo and video distributor Getty Images from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in a $3.3 billion deal.

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