Stocks Up Slightly As 3Q Earnings Season Kicks Off

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher Tuesday, with the Dow reaching a record close and intraday high after a seesaw session, as investors proceeded cautiously before the unofficial start of the third-quarter earnings period.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.36 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at a record 11,867.17, after hitting a lifetime intraday high at 11,877.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.76 points, or 0.20 percent, at 1,353.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 3.66 points, or 0.16 percent, at 2,315.43.

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Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. (AA), the first Dow component to announce its results for the period, marked the start of the reporting season immediately after the closing bell when it said its third-quarter profit almost doubled. Analysts were expecting the company to report sharply higher results, but earnings and revenues came in short of estimates.

Alcoa's stock was little changed in extended-hours trading, after closing at $28.29, up 1.1 percent, or 30 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average, Tuesday's session marked fresh lifetime closing and intraday highs.

"This market just doesn't want to go down. I keep waiting for a pullback, but it doesn't seem to be happening," said Rick Campagna, portfolio manager at Provident Investment Council in Pasadena, California. "It will be interesting to see what happens with earnings. I've got to believe the economy is slowing and that there will be tempering of guidance for the fourth quarter."

During the regular session, shares of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) had fluctuated between positive and negative territory after a U.S. International Trade Commission judge found that the cellphone handset chip maker had infringed on some of rival Broadcom Corp.'s (BRCM) patents.

Qualcomm shares rose 2.3 percent, or 83 cents, to close at $37.07 on Nasdaq after falling to a session low at $35 — down 3.4 percent from its close on Monday. The judge stopped short of banning the U.S. sale of phones with Qualcomm's chips.

Analysts said Qualcomm shareholders were probably relieved that it appeared the company was not prohibited from selling its chips in the United States.

Broadcom shares fell 2.7 percent, or 79 cents, to $28.80 in Nasdaq trading.

Other gainers included shares of home builders. The Dow Jones U.S. home construction index jumped 2.9 percent after JPMorgan Securities said it removed its cautious near-term stance and reasserted a more bullish posture on the home building group.

The broker upgraded D.R. Horton (DHI) and Standard Pacific (SPF) to "overweight" from "neutral," while raising Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) to "neutral" from "underweight." D.R. Horton shares rose 3.9 percent, or 92 cents, to $24.76, Standard Pacific gained 4.9 percent, or $1.25, to $26.62 and Toll Brothers climbed 5.1 percent, or $1.48, to $30.29, all in NYSE trading.

Grocery chain Supervalu Inc. (SVU) rose 4.5 percent, or $1.38, to $32.39 on the NYSE after the company posted quarterly profit that almost quadrupled, boosted by its purchase of rival chain Albertsons.

Technology shares barely moved on news of Google Inc.'s proposed acquisition of video Web site YouTube Inc. Google shares slipped 0.6 percent, or $2.35, to $426.65 on Nasdaq, a day after the Web search company announced the deal late Monday to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock.

Early in the session, though, Google's shares had traded as high at $437.85.

Trading was active on the NYSE, with about 1.50 billion shares changing hands, below last year's daily average of 1.61 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.82 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 1.80 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of 6 to 5 on the NYSE and by about 8 to 7 on Nasdaq.

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