NEW YORK, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks traded slightly higher Thursday on reports of strong consumer spending in July, erasing the steep losses of the previous day.
At midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 66.40 points, or 0.26 percent, to 25,545.82. The S&P 500 increased 8.18 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,848.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index rallied 3.16 points, or 0.04 percent, to 7,777.10.
The majority of the 30 blue-chip stocks in the Dow extended gains, with Cisco Systems rallying over 6.8 percent, leading the winners.
Shares of Walmart rose nearly 4.3 percent, after the U.S. retail corporation posted second-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street estimates. The retailer also raised its outlook for the full-year sales and earnings.
Seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors traded higher around midday, with the consumer staples sector up over 1.3 percent, leading the gainers.
On the economic front, U.S. consumers' spending increased in July, as retail and food services sales rose 0.7 percent to 523.5 billion U.S. dollars, following an increase of 0.3 percent in June, said U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.
Sales gains were shown in various sectors last month, including online retail, grocery stores, clothing retail and electronics and appliance stores.
U.S. initial jobless claims climbed more than expected last week, reaching 220,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week, said the Labor Department on Thursday.
U.S. stocks dived at market close on Wednesday, wiping out the short-lived gains of the previous day, as mounting fears over an impending recession struck a blow to the already-dampened investor sentiment.