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Stocks holding onto small gains in midday trading

Stocks clung to minor gains Tuesday, in part driven by signs the U.S. economy is gathering steam.

Just after 1 p.m. Eastern, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.26 percent. The S&P 500 was 0.23 higher. And the Nasdaq rose 0.71 percent.

The markets wavered in early morning then returned to positive territory after a report saying major homebuilders were optimistic about the sector.

Consumer prices were flat in April, but the cost of gasoline dropped.

One sign of concern for the economy was a report showing retail sales barely rose in April.

Stocks are having their worst month in the past eight. For the month, the Dow is down 518 points — about 4 percent — after hitting a four-year high on May 1. The average is on track to post its first monthly loss since September, when it fell 6 percent.

If the Dow closes higher, it will be only its second up day since the peak reached on May 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.