Wall Street closes slightly higher

US stocks pull back from early gains spurred by release of strong housing data

United States inched slightly higher at the close of trade, pulling back from more substantial earlier gains after flirting with record highs on the back of a positive sign for the housing market.

Stocks had opened cautiously ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony in Congress tomorrow, but added ground on a report showing new home sales were at their highest level in six years in January.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.75 points, or 0.12%, at 16,198.41.

The broader S&P 500 added 0.04 of a point to 1,845.46, falling just short of the highest close for the S&P 500, recorded on January 15 this year, at a level of 1848.38.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 4.48 points, or 0.10%, to 4,292.06.

Adding to the bullish tone was strong earning reports from two leading retailers and the world's largest brewer.

Department store Target and hardware retailer Lowe's both surged over 6% on earnings guidance, while AB InBev lifted 2.5% as its profit topped analyst expectations.

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