* Homebuilder Pulte falls as interest rates rise
* Retail sales rise less than expected in July
* Ackman resigns from board of J.C. Penney, shares fall
* Orbitz shares tumble as major shareholder cuts stake
* Dow down 0.37 pct, S&P 500 down 0.25 pct, Nasdaq down 0.31 percent
By Havovi Cooper
NEW YORK, Aug 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell modestly on Tuesday, pulled lower by consumer stocks, particularly homebuilders, in another day of light trading volume.
The homebuilder stocks came under pressure as government bond rates rose, making mortgages less affordable.
PulteGroup Inc was the biggest loser among consumer discretionary stocks, falling 3.5 percent to $15.17 a share. Lennar Corp fell 2.7 percent to $32.12.
Airline stocks fell after the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to block the merger of US Airways and American Airlines parent AMR Corp.
US Airways fell 8.8 percent to $17.11. Shares of Delta Airlines fell 9.4 percent to $19.05 and United Continental stock dropped 7.3 percent to $30.80
The market “is a lot like yesterday with traders seeing low volume. But the good news is we’re not seeing a massive sell-off and the general tone of the markets is still positive,” said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He said the current trend could continue until September.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 56.29 points or 0.37 percent, to 15,363.39, the S&P 500 lost 4.18 points or 0.25 percent, to 1,685.29 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 11.282 points or 0.31 percent, to 3,658.669.
J.C. Penney shares fell after initially rising on news activist investor William Ackman had resigned from its board on Monday.
“This is a clear victory for the board and (Chief Executive Officer Myron) Ullman. It also gives the board a reasonable time frame to recruit a long-term CEO,” said Steve Kernkraut, a portfolio manager at Durban Capital in New York.
“Many CEO candidates would refuse to work with Ackman on the board, so this clears the deck.”
J.C. Penney shares resumed their downward trajectory, falling 3.2 percent to $12.75.
Shares of travel website Orbitz were down over 12 percent to $10.25 after one of its largest investors, PAR Capital Management, said it sold 8.1 million of its 24.6 million-share stake in the company. Orbitz was the biggest percentage loser on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2 percent in July, while a narrower gauge - retail sales excluding cars, gasoline and building materials - rose at its fastest pace in seven months.
The core retail sales number could signal quicker economic growth and strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve to curtail stimulus efforts in September.
Even though the S&P has fallen in five of the past six sessions, the average is just 1.6 percent from an all-time closing high reached on August 2. Since July 11, the S&P has traded in a narrow range of about 2 percent.
Yum Brands Inc fell 3.2 percent to $72.08 a day after the fast food chain operator said July China sales slid 13 percent.
Eli Lilly and Co rose 4 percent to $55.72 after it said its experimental lung cancer drug increased survival in a late-stage trial.
Digital Generation Inc soared 25 percent to $12.95 a day after it agreed to sell its television business for $485 million.