U.S. stocks opened higher Tuesday despite lower-than-expected U.S. retail sales data.
U.S. retail and food services sales edged up 0.2 percent in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, lower than the upward-revised 0.6-percent increase in June, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
Analysts had forecast retail sales to rise 0.3 percent in the past month.
Meanwhile, prices for U.S. imports rose 0.2 percent in July after decreasing in each of the previous four months, as rising fuel prices more than offset lower non-fuel prices, the Labor Department said.
Exports prices in July edged down 0.1 percent for the second consecutive month. Both import and export prices in July were below analysts' expectations.
Moreover, small business optimism sighed in July, with the monthly Small Business Optimism Index increasing a mere 0.6 point to 94.1, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). This month's report continues the historically weak trend of owner confidence, said NFIB in the report.
Investors is watching closely a speech to be delivered by Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart late in the morning to try to find more clues about when the Fed will start to trim its monetary stimulus.
The three major stock indices last week saw the biggest weekly losses since June, with the Dow snapping a six-week winning streak, as investors jittered at hawkish remarks from senior U.S. Federal Reserve officials.
The Fed officials expressed their beliefs that the U.S. central bank will start to dial back the pace of its monthly asset purchases later this year, even as early as in September.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 29.89 points, or 0.19 percent, to 15,449.57 points. The S&P 500 was up 3.16 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,692.63 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 6.31 points, or 0.17 percent, to 3,676.26 points.