Markets nudged up by good economic news

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, trading is very

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, trading is very light for a third straight day, with many investors waiting to hear what Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says Friday at the central bank’s annual meeting. (Feb. 10, 2009) (Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

Slightly better economic growth and stronger housing sales nudged the stock market higher Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average managed a four-point gain.

The U.S. economy expanded at a 1.7 percent annual rate from April through June thanks to rising consumer spending and exports. That's an improvement from the initial estimate of 1.5 percent, but not enough to put a dent in the 8.3 percent unemployment rate.

The National Association of Realtors said its index of sales for previously owned homes increased 2.4 percent in July, its highest level since April 2010, the last month buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit.

"It's a mixed message overall," said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade. "We all know we need 2 percent [economic] growth. And you can't continue to improve on housing if the unemployment picture doesn't improve." The Dow added 4.49 points to close at 13,107.48.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.08 percent to 1,410.49, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.13 percent to 3,081.19.

Markets have slipped into a late-summer lull. Indexes have barely budged amid some of thinnest trading days this year.

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