Stocks get some support from drop in bond yeilds
NEW YORK » Wall Street eked out a modest advance yesterday after investors found little motivation in remarks by Federal Reserve officials and also shrugged off a warning from chip maker National Semiconductor Inc.
Major indexes squeaked by with gains after spending most of the session extending Monday's losses. Investors have been left looking for direction after the Fed held interest rates steady last week, and as corporate earnings season winds down.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did not address interest rates when he spoke before the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Similarly, speeches by two other central bankers and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also had little news to sway investors.
National Semi warned that sales will fall steeper than expected; the news initially cast a shadow across the market, but by the close of trading, even the tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index had recovered.
And tech stocks might further rebound after networker Cisco Systems Inc. reported its second-quarter profit jumped 40 percent, and beat expectations. The results, which came after the closing bell, sent shares of the tech bellwether slightly higher in after-hours trading.
"I get the sense investors are waiting to see what the market is going to do next, and aren't entirely convinced that a slight pullback is going to manifest itself," said Mike Malone, trading analyst at Cowen & Co. "There really wasn't any expectation that something would come from Bernanke. But the fact its over leaves investors looking around for what's next."
The Dow rose 4.57, or 0.04 per- cent, to 12,666.31. Broader stock indicators finished narrowly higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1.01, or 0.07 percent, to 1,448.00, and the Nasdaq rose 0.89, or 0.04 percent, to 2,471.49.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.34, or 0.41 percent, to 810.03. The index surpassed 800 for the first time last week, and reached an all-time high of 810.49 in the previous session.
Advancing issues outnumbered advancers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.63 billion shares, up from 2.47 billion a day earlier.
Stocks got some support from a decline in bond yields as fixed-income investors place bets on where interest rates are headed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 4.77 percent from 4.81 percent late Monday. The dollar was lower against other major currencies, while gold prices advanced.
Oil prices continued to climb on concerns that a blast of arctic weather in the Midwest and Northeast might linger, and drive up demand for heating fuel. A barrel of light sweet crude rose 14 cents to $58.88 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.