Stocks waver as Italian borrowing rates jump again

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks indexes wavered between small gains and losses Tuesday as another spike in Italy’s main borrowing rate overshadowed an increase in U.S. retail spending. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 50 points in midday trading.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. led the Dow lower with a 2.6 percent fall after reporting a surprise drop in earnings. Technology was the only one of the 10 industries in the S&P 500 index to rise.

Higher interest rates on government debt issued by Italy, Spain and other European countries rattled stock markets in Europe early Tuesday. The market rate for Italy’s 10-year bond jumped back above 7 percent. When rates crossed the 7 percent threshold last week, it raised worries about the country’s ability to manage its debts. Greece, Ireland and Portugal were forced to seek financial lifelines when their borrowing rates crossed the same mark.

In the U.S., the Commerce Department said early Tuesday that Americans spent more on autos, electronics and building supplies in October, raising retail sales for a fifth straight month. Sales increased 0.5 percent from the previous month, better than forecasts.

The retail sales report helped the U.S. stock market “show a certain degree of resilience in the wake of the negative headlines out of Europe,” said Todd Salamone, director of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

The Dow was down 51 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,027 as of noon Eastern. The S&P 500 lost 3, or 0.3 percent, to 1,248. The Nasdaq composite slid 4, or 0.1 percent, to 2,654.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell 2.6 percent after posting a drop in profits. Sales at Staples Inc. fell short of analysts’ expectations, and the company also cut its earnings forecast for the year. Its stock dropped 5.5 percent.

Among other companies reporting quarterly results, Home Depot said spending on home projects and storm-related repairs helped lift earnings. The country’s largest home-improvement retailer also raised its earnings estimate for the year. The stock gave up early gains of 1 percent was trading 0.5 percent lower. Department store chain Saks Inc. posted stronger sales and rose 2.2 percent. Urban Outfitters Inc. lost 3.2 percent after the company missed Wall Street’s revenue forecasts.

Dell Inc. reports quarterly results after the market closes.