Stocks tally mixed finish after 4-day rally; Procter & Gamble hits Dow
U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with Procter & Gamble's reduced earnings outlook weighing on the Dow industrials and the S&P little changed after its largest four-day rise in more than a year.
Deere & Co. gained after the maker of farm equipment posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as its efforts to curb costs offset moderating demand for its tractors and other agricultural machinery. Amazon.com fell after UBS downgraded the online retailer to neutral from buy. FireEye declined after the technology company projected a worse-than-estimated first-quarter adjusted loss of between 51 cents and 56 cents a share.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.83 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,963.94, with Procter & Gamble off 1.7 percent after the Dow component and supplier of consumer goods cut its sales and earnings outlook for the year to reflect the devaluation of currencies in emerging markets.
The S&P 500 lost nearly half a point to 1,819.26, with consumer staples and energy the hardest hit and technology and telecommunications faring best of its 10 major industry groups.
Andrew Adams, a strategist at Raymond James, said the 1,823 level on the S&P provided resistance on Tuesday and represented "the next key level to watch on the upside." Conversely, the 50-day moving average "currently resides at 1,809, which also happens to be a former-resistance-turned-support point. 1,809 and 1,800 should both offer support in the short term if we are to see a continuation of the uptrend," Adams wrote in emailed research.
"Technically, the S&P 500 is just under its 50-day moving average of 1,810 and the 200-day moving average is roughly five percent below current prices, implying some downside support around the 1710 level," the equity research team at U.S. Bank Wealth Management offered in a note.
"From a technical perspective, we think the full cycle of a corrective stage is still in progress, even in the presence of a strong turnaround," Peter Cardillo, chief market strategist at Rockwell Global Capital, wrote in an emailed note. "We recommend sitting tight and buying on a new reversal downward trend that could take the S&P 500 towards the 1,700 - 1,720 level."
After turning higher on the year on Tuesday, the Nasdaq added 10.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,201.28.
Advancers ran ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 639 million shares traded. Composite volume hit 3.3 billion.
Figures from China had that nation's exports expanding 10.6 percent in January from the year-earlier period. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 2 percent growth.
In New York Wednesday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said he expects the U.S. economy to expand 3 percent or more this year.
After Tuesday's close, the House of Representatives voted to suspend the nation's debt ceiling until March 2015, with the measure now in the Senate, where it had enough votes for passage.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks rallied, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising triple digits and the Nasdaq Composite turning positive for the year, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reassured Wall Street that the Fed would continue its policy of providing monetary stimulus to bolster the economy.
"Wall Street apparently really liked what she (Yellen) had to say, and, not surprisingly, it appears we can expect a Ben Bernanke-like reign during her term, as Ms. Yellen emphasized continuity in the Fed's policy strategy," said Adams.
On Wednesday, the Senate Banking Committee postponed Yellen's scheduled appearance on Thursday due to weather concerns.
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson
Coming Up This Week:
Thursday: Earnings: Pepsico, AIG, Kraft Foods, Applied Materials, Discovery Communications, Molson Coors, Generac, Avon Products, Borg Warner, Calpine, Goodyear Tire, Goldcorp, Cabela's, Sonoco Products, Trulia, Cliffs Natural, Bankrate. Jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, business inventories at 10 a.m. Eastern. The Treasury auctions $16 billion in 30-year bonds at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Friday: Earnings: Campbell Soup, Petrobras, Brookfield Asset Management, Interpublic, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, VF Corp, Scripps Networks TRW Automotive. Import prices at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Industrial production at 9:15 a.m. Eastern. Consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Eastern.
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