Dow edges up again into record territory
NEW YORK » Wall Street closed essentially flat yesterday after struggling to resume a modest upward trend while investors juggled upbeat economic data, divergent earnings reports and a pullback in Chinese stocks.
The Dow Jones industrials edged higher to a record close for the second straight day.
While a mix of profit reports pushed and tugged at stocks yesterday, investors also watched markets abroad, where stocks fell following word that economic growth in China's first quarter jumped a higher-than-expected 11.1 percent and inflation increased at its fastest pace in more than two years.
Chinese officials said they would take steps such as raising interest rates to curb growth.
Wall Street fell at the opening, then began to pare its losses after the Conference Board said its barometer of future economic activity rose slightly in March, signaling modest growth in coming months.
The Dow rose 4.79, or 0.04 percent, to 12,808.63.
Wednesday, the Dow reach-ed fresh trading and closing highs, perhaps signaling a recovery from a late February pullback that was triggered by a selloff on the Chinese market.
Wednesday's trading high of 12,838.46 and its close broke records set Feb. 20.
Broader market indicators dipped. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.77, or 0.12 percent, to 1,470.73. The S&P hit a new 6 1/2-year high Wednesday.
The Nasdaq composite index slipped 5.15, or 0.21 percent, to 2,505.35.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 5.06, or 0.61 percent, to 819.32.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.64 billion shares compared with 1.61 billion shares traded Wednesday.
Bond prices fell after three straight sessions of gains following the release of decent economic data and some robust earnings reports.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.67 percent from 4.66 percent late Wednesday.
China's sometimes volatile Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 4.5 percent yesterday. However, its decline wasn't as steep as the nearly 9 percent drop Feb. 27 that touched off a worldwide sell-off and shaved more than 3 percent from the major U.S. indexes that day.
Stocks fell in Europe yesterday, though at more modest levels than in Asia.
Light, sweet crude settled down $1.30 at $61.83 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold prices edged lower, while the dollar only rose slightly against the euro and the British pound. The euro is near an all-time high against the dollar and the British pound is trading at 26-year highs versus the U.S. currency.
Most major U.S. companies -- even those reporting drops in first-quarter profits -- have been exceeding the forecasts of analysts, who lowered their expectations after the stock market plunged in late February amid worries about tumbling markets overseas, the weakening dollar, a slowing economy and financial troubles among subprime lenders, which make loans to those with poor credit.