Stocks higher ahead of earnings reports
NEW YORK » Stocks edged higher yesterday as investors refrained from major moves ahead of first-quarter earnings reports that began with Alcoa Inc.'s results after the closing bell. A modest increase in the Dow Jones industrials marked the eighth-straight win for the blue chip index, its first such streak since 2003.
Aluminum producer Alcoa reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit, pleasing investors who bid the company's stock up in after-hours trading. Wall Street was looking for results from the Dow component to not only gauge the pace of earnings for the quarter but as a proxy for the health of the overall economy.
"A lot of people are going to be watching earnings very closely and not just the numbers, but the guidance that they give going forward," said J. Michael Barron, chief executive of Knott Capital. "I think that will be crucial."
The Dow rose 4.71, or 0.04 percent, to 12,573.85.
Broader stock indicators edged higher. The S&P 500 rose 3.78, or 0.26 percent, to 1,448.39, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 8.43, or 0.34 percent, to 2,477.61.
Advancing issues outnumbered advancers by about 5 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.33 billion shares compared with 1.26 billion traded Monday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.87, or 0.35 percent, to 814.51.
Bonds continued their recovery, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.72 percent from 4.75 percent late Monday. Bonds fell sharply Friday after release of the government's jobs report. Gold prices rose, while the dollar was mixed against other major currencies.
Oil prices rose after selling off Monday following doubts about Iran's comments about its uranium enrichment achievements. A barrel of light, sweet crude for delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 38 cents to settle at $61.89.
Fed Gov. Frederic Mishkin said yesterday that inflation expectations remain "well anchored" and said inflationary pressure have been "falling back again."
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said the U.S. economy has been growing but that its expansion is slowing. He also said inflation remains stubbornly high.
Alcoa, which rose 3 cents to $34.90 in regular trading, picked up another 50 cents in extended dealings after releasing its earnings announcement.
Dow Chemical Co. fell $1.12, or 2.4 percent, to $45.51 after the chemical and plastics maker said it has had no discussions about a leveraged buyout. A British newspaper reported over the weekend that a group of Middle Eastern investors and U.S. buyout firms was preparing a $50 billion bid.
Citigroup Inc. rose 82 cents to $52.40 ahead of a major restructuring announcement in which some 26,000 workers will be reassigned or see their jobs eliminated, according to a report by The New York Times.
D.R. Horton Inc., the nation's largest homebuilder by deliveries, said its second-quarter sales orders fell 37 percent, led by even steeper declines in California and the Southwest. Shares fell 34 cents to $21.70.