The Dow Jones industrial average rose Tuesday as IBM boosted its dividend by a third and as companies such as DuPont Co. posted strong earnings.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 34.54 points, or 0.27 percent, at 12,953.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.52 point, or 0.04 percent, at 1,480.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.87 point, or 0.03 percent, at 2,524.54.
But data pointing to more weakness in the housing market weighed on the broader market and tempered the Dow's late surge toward the 13,000 milestone. The Dow hit an intraday record of 12,989.86, but pared gains in the last hour of trade.
IBM shares ended up 3.5 percent on the increased dividend and after the world's biggest computer services company also said it will buy back up to $15 billion of its shares.
IBM's surge accounted for more than 26 points of the Dow's rise of 34.54 points, which also was boosted by a 3.3 percent gain in the shares of Honeywell International (HON) Inc..
The sharpest monthly drop in U.S. existing-home sales in 18 years and a drop in a gauge of consumer confidence kept investors on edge.
"The strength we're seeing in the Dow is really IBM, Honeywell and certainly DuPont. We saw some strong earnings out of DuPont this morning," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.
"The housing numbers were a negative influence earlier in the day despite what really was some strong earnings," he added.
Decliners outpaced advancers on both the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange.
Shares of IBM rose to $98.49 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of diversified manufacturer Honeywell rose to $52.90, after earlier hitting an almost six-year high of $53.21. Honeywell shares have been rising since the company reported upbeat quarterly earnings Friday.
Shares of DuPont gained 1.4 percent to $49.86, also on the NYSE.
Another notable gainer was Vonage Holdings Corp. (VG) after the Internet phone company said it had won a permanent stay of a previous court's injunction that would have barred it from signing up new customers in a patent dispute with Verizon Communications.
Vonage shares ended up 28.3 percent to $3.72 on the NYSE.
But signs that the housing market continued to falter hurt consumer-oriented stocks such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), whose shares fell 0.5 percent to $48.69 on the NYSE.
Shares of home builders, including Centex Corp. (CTX), also fell after the National Association of Realtors reported that March existing-home sales suffered their worst fall since January 1989.
Centex shares ended down 1.3 percent at $45.22 on the NYSE.