NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, with the Dow turning positive for the year as investors sought bargains amid signs of easing tensions in Ukraine and Iraq, which overshadowed some weak reads on the retail sector.
Wall Street has been largely driven by the news flow from abroad, and signs of progress were enough to overshadow some cautious signals in the United States, where retail sales unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to some loss of momentum in the economy.
Based on its Tuesday close, the benchmark S&P 500 is 2.7 percent below a record close in late July. Throughout 2014, investors have been using market pullbacks as opportunities to add to their positions.
"The market seems comfortable with what's going on abroad, and while there's always a risk of escalation, which would give the market pause, trying to anticipate that is pure speculation," said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
"Focusing on fundamentals has us viewing any weakness as a buying opportunity."
Poland's foreign minister eased some concerns, saying the threat of Russia invading Ukraine had receded amid reports a Russian aid convoy would cross the Ukraine border under the aegis of the Red Cross. Still, Ukraine said the convoy would not be allowed to pass.
Russia's dollar-denominated RTS index rose 1.8 percent and the Market Vectors Russia Exchange-Traded Fund was up 1.7 percent to $24.41.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29.09 points or 0.18 percent, to 16,589.63, the S&P 500 gained 5.26 points or 0.27 percent, to 1,939.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 21.12 points or 0.48 percent, to 4,410.37.
Retail stocks were among the weakest of the day. Macy's Inc cut its full-year same-store sales outlook. The stock fell 5.1 percent to $56.74 as the S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner.
Kohl's Corp lost 2.9 percent to $54.32, while Nordstrom Inc slid 2.2 percent to $67.23. Both names are slated to report results on Thursday. Deere & Co fell 1.5 percent to $85.16 after it posted a lower quarterly profit on Wednesday and cut its full-year outlook as declining grain prices discouraged farmers.
Amazon.com Inc boosted the Nasdaq, up 2.3 percent to $326.69. The online retailer unveiled a $10 credit-card reader and mobile app for brick-and-mortar businesses, marking its latest step to expand its presence in the physical world.
On the downside, both King Digital Entertainment Plc and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc suffered their biggest one-day decline ever after reporting weaker-than-expected revenue. King, the maker of the video game "Candy Crush Saga," plummeted 23 percent to $13.99, while SeaWorld sank 25 percent to $20.99.
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski