Stocks posted slight gains today, although blue chips fell, as investors bought shares of companies that had upbeat results and unloaded those adding to the market's earnings apprehension.
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A government report showing the economy at its weakest in eight years sparked light selling, as did worse-than-anticipated results from JDS Uniphase.
Analysts said the muted response reflected how accustomed investors have become to bad news, given the dismal second-quarter earnings of recent weeks. They also said the market was reassured by indications that that the outlook for semiconductor stocks could be improving.
Broader Indexes Advanced
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 38.96 at 10,416.67, according to preliminary calculations, cutting short a two-day winning streak.
Broader stock indicators advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 2.89 to 1,205.82, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.11 to 2,029.07.
For the week, the three indexes made little progress, despite a massive selloff Monday and Tuesday that sent the Dow down 335 points. The Dow ended the week off about 1.5 percent, while the other two indicators fell by less than a percent.
"There's no catalyst on the earnings side short-term to give us a strong headwind, so we're stuck," said Robert Harrington, co-head of listed block trading at UBS Warburg. "The only good thing I can say it that the negative news is not bringing the whole market down."
Investors continued to pore over earnings reports, looking for indications of where business is headed.
JDS Uniphase was pummeled, falling 95 cents, or 10 percent, to $8.55, after reporting a wider-than-expected quarterly loss and warning of revenue shortfalls ahead. The optical networking company also announced 7,000 more job cuts — bringing the total for the year to 16,000, or more than half of its staff.
Dow’s Losses Concentrated
The Dow's losses came from a handful of stocks, including technology bellwethers Intel, which fell 61 cents to $29.22, and Microsoft, which was down $1.14 at $65.47. DuPont, which released disappointing results early in the week, also suffered, falling $1.06 to $42.13.
The news was better in semiconductors, a technology subsector whose recovery is considered a precursor to any technology turnaround. Investors sent LSI Logic up $1.70 to $20.85 after the company said it expects business to bottom out in the current quarter.
But Wall Street had little reaction to a Commerce Department report released Friday that showed the economy slowed to a 0.7 growth rate this spring, the worst performance in eight years, as businesses cut investment spending by the largest amount in nearly two decades.
"There was some relief that the number wasn't negative … that we're not in a recession, and we're closer every day to interest rate cuts helping the economy," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum.
Still, most companies remain unable to say when business will improve. That inability has translated into uncertainty on Wall Street that has kept many investors on the sidelines. The three major stocks indexes, the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500, have all made little progress since mid-April.