NEW YORK - Stocks edged higher on Wall Street after a rally in retail stocks offset concerns about flaring tensions in Washington over increasing the country's borrowing limit.
Dow Jones industrials ended the day up 27.57 points at 13,534.89. The Dow moved higher in the late afternoon after being down as much as 62 points early. The Standard and Poor's 500 rose 1.66 points to 1,472.34, a five-year high. The Nasdaq composite index, dragged down by a fall in Apple, fell 6.72 points to 3,110.78.
Retail stocks moved higher throughout the day, boosted by a report that showed retail sales increased in December.
Consumers bought more autos, furniture and clothing, despite worries about potential tax increases, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Sales rose 0.5 percent in December from November, slightly better than November's 0.4 percent increase and the best showing since September.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told congressional leaders in a letter Monday that the government will reach its borrowing limit as soon as mid-February, earlier than expected. President Obama has criticized Republicans for linking talks over raising the debt ceiling to budget negotiations. He said consequences of the U.S. defaulting on its debt would be disastrous and shouldn't be a bargaining chip to force spending cuts.
"We are very concerned how the market is going to respond to all the news events that will be coming out of Washington over the next few months," said Eric Wiegand, a senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "It really comes down to the uncertainty and the risk of a further downgrade of our debt."