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Bath & Body Works entices loyal customers

Wall Street traded mixed on a cocktail of economic data and earnings reports, as investors keep an eye on the progress of ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.

The latest U.S. data releases reflected economic uncertainty across the nation as higher inflation and interest rates affected the consumer.

April existing home sales declined 3.4% from March, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.28 million – but the reading was not as dire as expected. The National Association of Realtors report showed that sales tumbled 23.2% compared to a year earlier, while the national median price of existing homes posted its biggest annual decline in over a decade.

Other data releases included the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index that showed a decline for the 13th consecutive month in April, while weekly jobless claims fell to 242,00 in the week ended May 13.

Earnings from retailers on Thursday showed a divergence from results earlier this week. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) shares ticked higher on strong sales in the recent quarter as the bellwether upped its full-year outlook.

Bath & Body Works (NYSE: BBWI) shrugged off negative expectations for an easing of discretionary spending among consumers as it launched innovative new products and special drops of limited-time items. The maker of fragranced body care products and candles reported fiscal Q1 earnings that topped forecasts and boosted its guidance. Shares advanced 10% following the earnings release.

Video transcript

- All right, we want to do a deeper dive into the latest market action. And to help us do that, let's get to Yahoo Finance contributor Remy Blaire. She's over at the New York Stock Exchange. Remy?

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REMY BLAIRE: Well, Wall Street has been trading on both sides of flat this morning after a mixed open. Keep in mind that this does come on the heels of yesterday's market rally, which saw the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all close higher by over 1%. In today's session, the NASDAQ continues to extend its gains and is up by about 1% as we head into the noon hour.

Of course, the latest economic data releases as well as earnings are being digested this morning. We got a mixed batch of economic data. We saw existing home sales decline in April while the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index fell for the 13th month in a row. The Philly Fed Index of Factory Activity also declined, and weekly jobless claims for the latest week fell as well. Of course, it's all about the implications of all this economic data in terms of the Fed's rate-hike trajectory.

Now in terms of the latest earnings report, Bed-- Bath & Body Works shares are surging this morning. Now, the maker of body care as well as fragrance products saw shares surge by 10%, and this came on the heels of the company reporting earnings and revenue that top forecasts. This did come in even though sales came in softer than expected. The maker of scented candles as well as hand sanitizers, body care products such as body lotion and body wash, did manage to raise its full year guidance.

Now this week, we have been following the latest earnings out from retailers such as Target, as well as Home Depot, and we have been seeing a pullback in discretionary spending from those earnings reports. But looking at the calendar up ahead, we will be getting Lowe's results next week as well as Foot Locker at the end of this week, so we'll be getting more insight into the American consumer's spending habits.

- Well, the focus has certainly been on the retailer this week. Remy Blaire, our thanks to you.