(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a flat note, erasing earlier gains amid stronger-than-forecast domestic retail sales readings and encouraging growth data out of Europe.
S&P 500 Index dipped 0.01 percent to finish at 1,403.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.02 percent to end at 13,172.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.18 percent to close at 3,016.98.
On the US economic front, the Commerce Department reported retail sales and core retail sales rose 0.8 percent for July, following declines in the previous month. Retail sales, which increased for the first time in four months, topped economists expectations of a 0.3 percent rise.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department said core producer price index in July rose 0.4 percent, coming in above economists expectations of a rise of 0.2 percent. The headline index also gained 0.3 percent, the fastest rate in five months, versus estimate of 0.2 percent.
In European news, Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.3 percent from the prior quarter, better than economists expectations of a 0.2 percent increase. French GDP remained flat in the second quarter, while expectations were for a 0.1 percent drop.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: HD, EL, GRPN, KORS, MNST, DKS, TJX, SKS, TW, SGMS
In corporate news, Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD) rose 3.58 percent after the home improvement retailer raised its earnings forecast. The world's largest home improvement retailer posted higher quarterly earnings as consumers spent more amid continued demand for its products.
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ:GRPN) sank 26.75 percent after the local e-commerce marketplace posted quarterly revenue that fell short of Wall Street expectations.
Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE:EL) added 9.31 percent after the maker of skin care and fragrance products posted better-than-expected quarterly results on strong growth in China and travel retail.
Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ:MNST) jumped 9.99 percent after the Corona, California-based distributor of energy drinks authorized an additional $250 million in share repurchase plan to boost shareholder value.
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:KORS) spiked 16.48 percent after the retailer of women's apparel boosted its earnings outlook following a jump in quarterly earnings and sales.
TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE:TJX) added 1.79 percent after the off-price apparel and home fashions retailer lifted its 2013 earnings forecast following a 21 percent jump in quarterly earnings due to higher revenue and margin expansion.
Dicks Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE:DKS) retreated 3.86 percent following a 27 percent decline in quarterly earnings. The company raised its full year earnings outlook for the second time in three months, yet fell short of market expectations.
Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS) gained 6.18 percent after the department store retailer posted a quarterly loss, excluding items, that came in narrower than analysts expected.
Towers Watson & Co. (NYSE:TW) slumped 11.65 percent after the professional services company posted quarterly earnings that missed market expectations and offered downbeat guidance for the first quarter.
Scientific Games Corp. (NASDAQ:SGMS) slumped 11.37 percent after shares of the supplier of lottery gaming systems were downgraded to "Hold" from "Buy" by Deutsche Bank, which cited limited catalysts and tough visibility.
European markets closed in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.94 percent to close at 6,974.39. France's CAC40 rose 0.70 percent to finish at 3,450.27. U.K.'s FTSE 100 added 0.56 percent to end at 5,864.78.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index gained 0.30 percent to finish at 2,142.52. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.50 percent to end at 8,929.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.05 percent to end at 20,291.68. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,731.59, up 0.56 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures gained 0.72 percent to $93.400 per barrel and natural gas futures jumped 4.18 percent to $2.843 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures lost 0.68 percent to $1,601.7 per ounce and silver futures fell 0.13 percent to $27.73 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slipped 0.08 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2323. The British pound dipped 0.01 percent against the greenback to 1.5684, while the dollar advanced 0.52 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.7300.