Wall Street closed an erratic session mixed today after an uneven batch of earnings reports made investors more cautious about buying stocks...
NEW YORK — Wall Street closed an erratic session mixed today after an uneven batch of earnings reports made investors more cautious about buying stocks. Disappointing economic readings added to the market’s uneasiness.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.22 to 12,620.49, after fluctuating throughout the session.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 27 cents to close at $29.22 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 24 cents to $76.91.
Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 0.85 to 1,365.56, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 8.28 to 2,341.83.
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Investors were jittery after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said regional manufacturing activity weakened further in April. The index of manufacturing activity fell to a negative 24.9 from a negative 17.4 in March. The survey found most manufacturing executives were “cautiously optimistic” about future activity.
Merrill Lynch reported a first-quarter loss of $2.14 billion, a shortfall that was wider than the average analyst estimate. The loss came after the world’s largest brokerage wrote down the value of assets tied to mortgages and leveraged loans by several billion dollars. The company also said it would eliminate 3,000 more jobs, for a total of 4,000 in the latest round of cuts. However, Merrill Chief Executive John Thain said during a conference call that business conditions in April appear better than in the first quarter.
Merrill’s report followed a larger-than-anticipated rise in IBM’s quarterly earnings, but there were also disappointing results from Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone company, and drug maker Pfizer.
Dan Laufenberg, chief economist for Ameriprise, said the market remains cautious, though less so than in recent weeks and months.
“The market is going to go up and down. When you have nice moves like you had yesterday and you hold onto most of that gain I think that tends to be a more positive signal,” he said.
Associated Press business reporter Writer Eileen AJ Connelly in New York contributed to this story.