Stocks finish mixed after tech pullback
NEW YORK » Wall Street ended mixed yesterday after weakness in the technology sector punctured some of the market's enthusiasm over a report that suggested the economy could still be growing.
Comments from memory chip maker SanDisk Corp. about soft sales helped pull stocks off their highs and sent tech shares lower.
The Conference Board's leading economic indicators report showed a 0.1 percent rise for April, following a similar uptick in March. The index, aimed at predicting economic activity in the next three to six months, bolstered investors' belief that the overall U.S. economy, while weak, is positioned for recovery.
After five months of declines in the leading indicators, some investors were concerned that March's increase was an anomaly -- so April's advance was met with relief, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors.
But technology shares tugged at the market after SanDisk issued cautious comments at a JPMorgan technology conference yesterday, said Neil Massa, senior trader at MFC Global Investment Management in Boston. SanDisk fell $2.42, or 7.5 percent, to $30.02. SanDisk's remarks came on a day of light trading, and dented but didn't sink an upbeat mood on Wall Street.
"Even though you're up only 0.1 percent, it's very good news that the declining trend may have been reversed," Johnson said, referring to the leading indicators report. "That is important for this reason: It's consistent with the message of the markets."
The Dow rose 41.36, or 0.32 percent, to 13,028.16. The blue chips had been up nearly 150 points at their highs of the session.
Broader stock indicators finished mixed. The S&P 500 advanced 1.28, or 0.09 percent, to 1,426.63, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 12.76, or 0.50 percent, to 2,516.09. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.72, or 0.37 percent, to 738.45.
Declining issues narrowly outpaced advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 3.55 billion shares, compared with 3.74 billion traded Friday.
Government bonds rose as the rally in stocks cooled. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its yield, fell to 3.83 percent from 3.85 percent late Friday.
The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices also climbed.
One pressure point for the economy -- rising energy prices -- appeared relatively in check yesterday. While many investors remain mindful of the rising price of oil and its effect on consumer spending, Wall Street seemed somewhat unfazed as oil advanced but didn't top its record trading high set Friday. Light, sweet crude rose 76 cents to settle at a record $127.05 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
General Motors Corp. rose after the United Auto Workers reached an agreement with American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. that may end a nearly three-month strike by 3,650 U.S. hourly workers. GM advanced 19 cents to $20.87.
Lowe's Cos. posted a first-quarter profit decline and issued an outlook for the year that came in below analyst estimates. The second-largest home improvement chain fell 64 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $24.25.