NEW YORK, March 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks reversed early losses to close slightly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average scoring a nine-session winning streak which was the longest in 16 years, bolstered by encouraging U.S. retail sales.
The blue-chip Dow inched up 5.22 points, or 0.04 percent, to 14, 455.28. After the gain, the Dow has refreshed record high for seven sessions in a row.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index gained 2.04 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,554.52 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 2.80 points, or 0.09 percent, to 3,245.12.
The main stock indices opened nearly flat, following a general slip in Asian and European stocks on Wednesday as concerns over China's inflation pressure increased and corporate earnings from Europe were downbeat.
The market sentiment was underpinned by strong retail sales from the United States. The U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday that retail sales in February increased 1.1 percent from the previous month, the largest rise in five months, beating market expectation.
U.S. business inventories were up 1.0 percent in January, the biggest since May 2011, suggesting that demand will pick up, according to data also released by the Commerce Department Wednesday.
U.S. import prices rose 1.1 percent in February, driven by higher fuel prices, which followed an increase of 0.6 percent in the previous month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Export prices advanced 0.8 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January.
The S&P 500 has been attempting to break through its all-time high which was just less than 11 points over Wednesday's closing level.
The CBOE Volatility Index, considered the fear gauge of Wall Street, fell 3.4 percent to 11.82.
In corporate news, shares of Silver Spring Networks closed at 17 U.S. dollars in the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company operates a hardware and software network designed to help utility companies.
Boeing shares gained 0.70 percent to 84.75 dollars, one day after the aircraft maker received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration of the company's plan to test and certify improvements to the Dreamliner 787's battery system.
Coach shares rallied 1.76 percent to 49.67 dollars after Citigroup raised its investment rating on the luxury leather maker to "buy" from "neutral."
The U.S. dollar advanced against most of major currencies on Wednesday, boosted by better-than-expected U.S. retail sales data for February.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery dropped 2 cents, or 0.02 percent, to settle at 92.52 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. While Brent crude for April delivery fell 1.29 dollars, or 1.18 percent, to close at 108.36 dollars a barrel.
Gold future for April delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 3.3 dollars, or 0.21 percent, to settle at 1,588.4 dollars per ounce on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON, March 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. manufacturing and trade companies boosted their stockpiles in January even as sales fell modestly, U.S. Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.
The inventory figure of 1.6422 trillion U.S. dollars was 1.0 percent higher than that in the previous month, and it also represented a 5.6 percent increase from a year earlier, said the department. Full story