Stocks ended little changed Tuesday, with the S&P 500 hovering near its break-even mark for much of the session after a new measure of manufacturing activity unexpectedly declined. Blue chips performed better, with the Dow Jones climbing to a new intra-day record after component companies E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and United Technologies Corp posted better-than-expected Q2 earnings. Another Dow component, The Travelers Cos., also beat expectations with its latest quarterly results but finished lower after disclosing plans to revamp its auto-insurance unit and laying off 450 workers.
Traders also appeared willing to maintain existing positions ahead of earnings reports after the close by Apple Inc. (AAPL) and AT&T (T).
Shares opened Tuesday's session with moderate gains after Dupont (DD) reported Q2 EPS of $1.28, topping Wall Street expectations by $0.01 per share. The chemicals giant also raised its EPS outlook for FY13 by around $0.35 over its prior forecast, now projecting earnings of around $3.85 per share this year. Analysts, on average, are looking for a $3.81 per share gain. Solid earnings from Texas Instruments (TXN) and United Technologies (UTX) this morning also contributed to the early advance.
But stocks started to be pressured following release of Richmond Federal Reserve Bank's monthly survey of manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region, which fell to a minus 11 reading this month from a revised 7 score in June, trailing market expectations for a rise to 8 during July. The surprise decline stands in contrast to improving manufacturing conditions in other Fed bank regions, including the manufacturing index for New York rising to a five-month high while the Philadelphia Fed's index this month hitting a two-year high.
Other economic data appears to have had small impact on stocks. The weekly Redbook index found a 3.3% year-over-year rise in same-store sales while the FHFA index of home prices showed an as-expected 0.7% increase during May.
Commodities were mixed. Crude oil for September delivery added 29 cents to close at $107.23 per barrel while September natural gas cents rose 7 cents to finish at $3.75 per 1 mln BTU.
Crude oil iss down $1.35 to $106.70 per barrel. Natural gas is up $0.07 to $3.75 per 1 million BTU. Gold iss down $4.00 to $1,332.10 an ounce, while silver is down $0.21 to $20.30 an ounce. Copper is up $0.01 to $3.19 per pound. August gold slipped $1.30 to settle at $1,334.70 per ounce.
Here's Where The Markets Stood At Day's End
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