Stocks ended mixed Tuesday as tech and oil stocks were buoyed by bargain hunting, but the undercurrent of earnings worry took down the Dow.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 25.41, or 0.3 percent, at 8448.56, continuing its losing streak for a fifth straight session. The Standard & Poor's 500indexand Nasdaqadvanced 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Volume was light, with about 1.3 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with the daily average of about 1.9 billion last year.
JPMorgan , Citigroup and ExxonMobil were the top three gainers on the Dow.
Alcoa , General Electric and Bank of America were the biggest drags at the bottom.
Investors started the week focused on earnings, and Alcoa kicked things off with a thud: The aluminum maker, which is slashing 15,000 jobs, reported a loss of $1.19 billionand a 19-percent drop in sales, falling well short of expectations.
General Electric shares tumbled after an analyst said the conglomerate's profit may be relying more heavily on tax benefits that Wall Street expects. Barclays analyst Robert Cornell said as much as 20 cents of GE's profit, expected to be in the 36 to 42-cent-per-share range, could come from tax benefits.
Citigroup sharesstarted the day loweramid concerns over its earnings and its plans to shed its brokerage unitas part of a deal with Morgan Stanley Investors had been dumping Citi shares since Monday amid concerns that the Morgan Stanley deal won't fix the bank's capital needs.
But financials turned around by the end of the day after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said more needs to be done to help stabilize banks and as President-elect Obama pushed for Congress to release the remaining $350 billion TARP funds.
JPMorgan bumped up its earnings, which are now due out Thursday; analysts expect earnings of 2 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.
Fellow Dow component Intel also reports on Thursday; analysts peg earnings at 5 cents a share.
Yahoo slipped amid news that Carol Bartz, former chief executive of software company Autodesk, is expected to be named CEO of Yahoo.
Biotech companies helped the Nasdaq outperform the broader market. Genzyme rose after the company projected its earnings would top expectations.
ExxonMobil and Chevron gained more than 1 percent as crude oil ticked higher, settling at $37.38 a barrel.
Pfizer shares ticked higher following a report in the Wall Street Journal that the pharmaceutical giant plans to lay off 800 researchers.
In economic news, the trade deficit shrank nearly 29 percentin November, the biggest contraction in 12 years, as weak consumer demand and plummeting oil prices caused a record drop in imports, the Commerce Department reported.
Meanwhile the Bernard Madoff scandal continued to reverberate across the globe, with Spain investigating Banco Santander's loss of more than $2.9 billion of its clients' money, the Wall Street Journal reported.
TUESDAY: Lacker speaks; Detroit Auto Show (Jan. 11-25)
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; retail sales; import/export prices; business inventories; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Stern speaks; Earnings from Xilinx
THURSDAY: ECB announcement; PPI; weekly jobless claims; Philadelphia, NY Fed surveys; Fed's beige book; Earnings from JPMorgan, Genentech, Intel
FRIDAY: CPI; industrial output; consumer sentiment; Fed's Lacker speaks