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US STOCKS-Wall Street little changed after 4-day rally

Chuck Mikolajczak
Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 | 11:00 AM ET

* Procter & Gamble drags Dow, S&P after outlook

* Ford edges higher after China sales results

* Indexes: Dow off 0.18 pct, S&P off 0.01 pct, Nasdaq up 0.21 pct

NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, as a decline in Procter & Gamble kept gains in check after a four-day rally left the S&P 500 within striking distance of a record high.

The benchmark S&P index has risen 3.9 percent over the prior four sessions, its longest winning streak of the year and best four-day performance in thirteen months. The index now stands 1.6 percent below its record closing high of 1,848.38 set on Jan. 15.

"We had four nice days, so we are just taking a little pause, a little break," said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania.

"This is all short-term stuff, we could end up being higher by this afternoon."

Procter & Gamble Co lost 1.3 percent to $77.78 to weigh on both the Dow and S&P 500 after the world's largest household products maker cut its sales and earnings outlook for the year to reflect unfavorable foreign exchange rates in Venezuela and the devaluation of currencies in various developing markets.

Deere & Co shed 1 percent to $86.61 the world's largest maker of farm equipment posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit but kept its full-year forecast unchanged.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29 points or 0.18 percent, to 15,965.77, the S&P 500 lost 0.2 points or 0.01 percent, to 1,819.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.795 points or 0.21 percent, to 4,199.84.

Owens Corning jumped 12.7 percent to $44 after the composite and building materials company posted its fourth-quarter earnings.

S&P 500 companies scheduled to report earnings after the close on Wednesday include Applied Materials Inc, Metlife Inc, Whole Foods Market Inc and Cisco Systems Inc.

Investors who were shocked by Cisco's dire outlook in its last quarterly earnings report are bracing for more bad news when the network equipment maker reports results.

Of 365 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Wednesday morning, 67.7 percent have beaten profit expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent and slightly above the 67 percent beat rate for the last four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Ford Motor Co advanced 0.9 percent to $15.10 after the automaker and its Chinese joint ventures reported a 53 percent increase in vehicle sales in China in January.

AMCOL International Corp surged 12.4 percent to $41.26 after the minerals and materials group agreed to be acquired by France's Imerys for about $1.6 billion, including debt.