Stocks Ended Flat after Retail Sales Disappointed

U.S. stocks closed virtually unchanged on Wednesday, as early gains faded by the end of the session, following disappointing monthly retail sales figures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.74 points, or 0.04%, to 18,060.49. The S&P 500 was off 0.64 point, or 0.03%, to 2,098.48. The Nasdaq Composite gained 5.50 points, or 0.11%, to 4,981.69.

U.S. consumers stayed away from shopping in April despite warmer weather and the Easter holiday, leaving retail sales stagnant. Retail sales were flat last month compared to March, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Cisco Systems Inc. beat analysts’ estimates for fiscal third-quarter profit. Sales increased 5.1 percent to $12.1 billion, with profit before certain costs of 54 cents a share, for the quarter ended April 25.

J.C. Penney’s turnaround efforts gained momentum in the first quarter as the department store boosted same-store sales and narrowed losses. Overall revenue for the quarter rose 2.1% to $2.86 million from the year-ago quarter, while losses narrowed to $173 million or 55 cents a share.

AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. wireless company, said it would offer the Hulu subscription streaming service to its customers through its websites and mobile apps beginning later this year.

The Senate will take a new vote on “fast track” trade authority on Thursday. Under a deal reached Wednesday, the Senate will take a procedural vote on fast track after voting on other measures including a customs bill containing language to crack down on currency manipulators.

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