Stocks trudged higher on Wednesday with the Nasdaq leading the way after some technology firms released some upbeat earnings reports.
The rally was subdued, however, as Wall Street remained concerned about corporate profits as the U.S. continues its battle against terrorism.
Lifting stocks was news from companies like software maker Citrix (T), whose results beat expectations.
But other companies continued to put investors on notice that their results would disappoint. Warnings came from phone giant AT&T Corp. (T), aviation and aerospace parts maker Honeywell and online retailer Amazon.com (AMZN).
Also, chemical producer DuPont (DD) said third-quarter profit fell 75% and fourth-quarter profit will be lower than expected as demand fell for chemicals and plastics used in cars, construction and clothing.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 5.54 points, or 0.06%, to 9,345.62. The Nasdaq gained 27.10 points, or 1.59%, to 1,731.54. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 0.42 of a point, or 0.04%, to 1,085.20.
The markets are slightly encouraged, however, by a new economic stimulus package, which is expected to pass the House on Wednesday and be signed by President Bush in time for Thanksgiving. The bill contains nearly $100 billion in tax cuts and business related measures along with $12 billion in greater unemployment benefits.
After investigators widened the anthrax investigation in Washington to include the White House, SureBeam (SURE), a provider of electronic irradiation systems, saw its stock climb. The company is benefiting from comments by the U.S. Postal Service that the agency will spend whatever it takes to ensure the mail is clean.
Both Sears Roebuck (S) and Eastman Kodak (EK) are planning massive job cuts. Sears plans to cut close to 5,000 jobs and Kodak will slash up to 4,000 job cuts as third-quarter profit plunged 77%. Kodak also reduced its fourth-quarter profit forecast.
U.S Treasuries rose in anticipation that the House will pass the new stimulus package Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Treasury offered to buy back $1 billion in bonds Thursday, with maturities ranging from from February 2010 to November 2014. According to Standard & Poor's economic research unit, the size was a little smaller than we expected, and the maturities a little longer, but the news shouldn't hurt the long bond much.
European markets were mixed. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index closed off 0.49% at 5,167.60. In France, the CAC 40 index was up 30.59 points, or 0.69%, to 4,486.35. In Germany, the DAX index climbed 2.29%, to 4,811.82, as banking shares surged on hopes of a quarter-point interest rate cut from the European Central Bank on Thursday.
In Asia, the markets ended mixed. The Nikkei dropped 59.41 points, or 0.54%, to 10,802.15, as weakness in technology issues overshadowed strength in both bank and telecom shares. In Hong Kong, the market edged higher by 23.62 points, or 0.23%, to 10,243.46.