Stocks pulled off a gain Thursday as comments from a European official offered some relief on the Greece front. Consumer-discretionary stocks were the day's best performer, along with materials and industrials.
Stocks had struggled earlier today amid worries about Greece and some weak corporate outlooks.
But the market turned around in early afternoon trading after Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said Greece was a unique case and that other countries that have been tossed around as "the next Greece" — Spain, Portugal and Italy — would avoid a debt crisis.
The Dow ended up nearly 10 points, or 0.1 percent, led by Boeing , Travelers and American Express , which reports earnings after the closing bell. Travelers reports Friday morning before the open.
It was the fourth straight up day for the Dow, though yesterday's was also a squeaker. The index is up just a little over 1 percent for the week.
The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent today and the Nasdaq advanced 0.6 percent.
Volatility eased: The CBOE volatility indexfell back around 16 after being around 18 this morning.
The dollar rose against the euro, ending near its 52-week high after Moody's cut Greece's sovereign rating by a notch and placed the rating on review for a further possible downgrade. Oil pricessettled above $83 a barrel, while gold slippedto nearly $1,142 an ounce.
Some good news on the economic front today: Weekly jobless claims fell by 24,000 last week, and existing-home sales rose by 6.8 percentlast month.
Homebuilder stocks were among the gainers today, along with some retail names and Amazon , which reports after the bell.
Earnings season had been chugging along nicely, with more than 80 percent of the S&P 500 names reporting so far beating expectations.
But there were a few blemishes on the quarter in this latest batch as several companies delivered disappointing outlooks, including eBay , Qualcomm , Abbott Labs and Gilead Sciences.
Just a day after Qualcomm said it was seeing weakness in demand for its cellphone chips, Finnish handset maker Nokia missed its earnings target and lowered its outlook for margins, citing competition from Research In Motion , Apple and others.
And Verizon reported its wireless growth slowed during the quarter a day after AT&T reported that the number of new subscribers with contracts added was nearly half of what it was a year earlier and the lowest since 2004.
So, while Apple seems to be defying the economic slump, reporting blowout earnings and a great outlook, it doesn't seem to be taking the whole sector with it. Telecoms were one of the worst—performing sectors today.
U.S.-traded shares of Nokia got hammered today, falling 13 percent. Qualcomm was down more than 5 percent and Motorola was off more than 3 percent.
Netflix jumped more than 15 percent after the online video-rental company reported upbeat first-quarter results, new subscriber additions and growth in its video-streaming business.
And Sandisk shares continued to soar, up another 12 percent, after the microchip maker reported its quarterly revenue jumped 65 percent and boosted its outlook.
Traders have been cycling into recovery plays like tech and industrials amid some encouraging economic signs, like today's reports on jobless claims and existing-home sales. The day's best-performing sectors included consumer discretionary and industrials.
But investors continued hedge their bets — early in the day, consumer staples and health care saw some action, while techs finished in the middle of the pack.
"The market is tired," said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Atlantic Asset Management. "I'm kind of in a 'sell in May—go away' mode here," he said.