NEW YORK – Stocks barely moved Tuesday despite strong results from Johnson & Johnson and the banking sector, as many investors stayed on the sidelines waiting for technology bellwether Intel's quarterly report.
The Dow Jones industrial average (search) rose 9.37 points, or 0.1 percent, at 10,247.59. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) gained 0.78 of a point, or 0.07 percent, to 1,115.14. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) lost 5.26 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,931.66.
After the close of regular trading, Intel announced earnings that were in line with Wall Street expectations, but the company's sales were at the low end of Intel's previous outlook and slightly less than analysts had forecast.
Investors were looking to Intel's results for a better read on the health of the technology sector, which was hit hard over the past week with analyst downgrades and lowered outlooks. Intel's third-quarter and 2004 outlooks, while strong, were somewhat disappointing for investors hoping for a pleasant surprise.
Despite the negativity surrounding earnings — investment firm Merrill Lynch & Co. missed its earnings estimates Tuesday — some analysts saw reasons for hope.
"I think some of the earnings expectations have been lowered over the past few weeks, and that'll be built into prices," said Doug Sandler, chief equity strategist at Wachovia Securities. "That does give us some room to the upside of this trading range we're stuck in should earnings come in strong."
Intel shares, which had slipped 10 cents during the regular session to $26.14 on Nasdaq, fell to $25.15 on the INET electronic brokerage system after its earnings report.
Stock index futures were pointing to a weaker open on Wednesday morning, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index September futures down 3.20 points at 1,111, and Nasdaq 100 index futures for the same month down 12 points at 1,422.
During the session investors kept a close eye on oil prices, which were hovering below $40 a barrel — a level traders view as a benchmark that, when exceeded, heightens fears of rising energy costs. NYMEX crude futures settled off 5 cents at $39.45.
The Commerce Department's (search) latest report on the nation's trade deficit gave the market a lift. The trade deficit narrowed to $46 billion in May, dropping 4.5 percent from April's all-time high. U.S. exports had their best month on record, the department said, helped in part by a weaker dollar.
However, investor focus remained with earnings and, in particular, companies' outlooks for the second half of the year, which call for slower growth rates. Add that to concerns over terrorism, election year politics and ever-present interest rate concerns, and investors "are going to be sitting on their hands," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.
"What we see right now is the market bumping up against a wall of worry," Johnson said. "For every investor, there's something to worry about. And that's why, even though second quarter should come in strong, it won't be enough to really spark anything."
An upgrade on Tuesday by Morgan Stanley of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) helped bolster the Dow. Shares of IBM rose after the brokerage upgrade, gaining 30 cents to $85.25.
Linux distributor Red Hat Inc. (RHAT) said Tuesday it would restate results for the past three fiscal years to correct the way it recognizes subscription revenue, adding that federal regulators have raised questions about an annual report. Its shares slumped 23 percent, or $4.62 to $15.73.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) saw its sales climb 11.1 percent from a year ago, crediting it pharmaceutical and medical devices for the rise. The company earned $2.5 billion in the quarter, beating Wall Street estimates by 3 cents per share. It rose 49 cents, or about 1 percent, to $55.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Qualcomm Corp. (QCOM) stock rose nearly 1 percent to $70 on Nasdaq after it announced a two-for-one stock split and an increase in its quarterly cash dividend.
In its first day on the New York Stock Exchange, Domino's Pizza Inc. (DPZ) traded at $13.50, 50 cents below its offering price of $14 per share.
Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) Merrill Lynch said its quarterly earnings rose 10 percent, helped by growth in asset management fees and mutual fund commissions, but the results missed expectations and the shares fell $1.67, or 3 percent, to $49.80.
Newspaper publisher Gannett Co. (GCI) announced earnings that were in line with estimates, boosting profits by 9 percent from a year ago. But Media General Inc. (MEG), which runs broadcast stations and major metropolitan newspapers, missed its estimates by 6 cents per share. Gannett climbed 99 cents to $82.38, while Media General lost 8 cents to $62.52.
Trading was sluggish, with about 1.2 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.4 billion shares traded on Nasdaq.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up 0.45, or 0.1 percent, at 562.69.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.2 percent. In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 0.1 percent, France's CAC-40 rose 0.1 percent for the session, and Germany's DAX index gained 0.3 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.