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Stocks End Flat; Apple Tops $700, FedEx Drags

Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012 | 4:40 PM ET

Stocks ended narrowly mixed in lackluster trading Tuesday, as the glow continued to fade from last week's Fed-fueled rally and investors looked ahead to some key economic reports for further direction.

Right after the closing bell, Goldman Sachs named Harvey Schwartz as its new CFO effective the end of January 2013. Current CFO David Viniar will retire and join the company's board.

Meanwhile, Microsoft increased its quarterly dividend by 15 percent to 23 cents a share from 20 cents a share.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 11.54 points, or 0.09 percent, to finish at 13,564.64, after trading in a tight 64-point range. Alcoa led the blue-chip laggards, while Kraft rose.

The S&P 500 slipped 1.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 1,459.32. The Nasdaq erased 0.87 points, or 0.03 percent, to end at 3,177.80.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell near 14.(Read More: 10 Stocks With Double S&P 500 Gains)

Among the key S&P sectors, energy led the decliners, while consumer staples climbed.

Apple closed above $700 a share for the first time, a day after the tech giant said its iPhone 5 sales set a record over the weekend. In addition, at least two brokerages lifted their price targets on the tech giant.

“We’ve gotten everything on our Christmas list and some more—it’s hard to sustain the market enthusiasm,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. “There’s potential for a bump in the road…while the Fed will be adding a lot of money, that doesn’t mean you throw all your chips in at once.”

On the economic front, homebuilder sentiment index rose to 40 in September, hitting its highest level in over six years, according to the National Association of Home Builders. However, homebuilders traded lower across the board including Pulte , Beazer and Meritage Homes .

European shares ended lower amid concerns that Spain will not seek assistance from the ECB's bond-buying program.

Markets' Next Move
Discussing whether earnings expectations are too high, with Rob Morgan, Fulcrum Securities; Brad Friedlander, Angel Oak Capital; Dan McMahon, Raymond James.

Stocks pulled back from multi-year highs Monday as euphoria over the Fed's decision to launch another round of QE diminished. But there were deep disagreements between policymakers over whether the new round of bond-buying would actually boost the ailing economy.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said the central bank's decision to launch another round of bond buying will provide "important added stimulus" to the economy. Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told CNBC he would have voted against itbecause he believes the program won't do much to create jobs.

FedEx reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts' expectations, but shares fell after the package delivery company cut its profit estimatesfor its fiscal year 2013. Rival UPS also slipped.

Alcoa slid after Jefferies cut its rating on the aluminum producer to "hold" from "buy."

AMD fell sharply after the chipmaker said its CFO, Thomas Seifert, is leaving the company after joining the company in 2009.

Ford unveiled its redesigned 2013 Fusion. The Fusion has become automaker's best-selling model since it went on sale in 2005. (Read More: Ford CEO Mulally Mum on Succession Plans)

Oil prices slipped a day after falling sharply amid rumorsover a "fat-finger" trading error and buzz over a potential release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

On the economic front, the U.S. current account deficit narrowed more than expected to $117.40 billion in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department. Analysts surveyed before the report had expected the current account gap to shrink to $125.5 billion.

By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, housing starts, existing home sales, oil inventories; Earnings from AutoZone, General Mills, Adobe Systems, Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from CarMax, ConAgra, Rite Aid, Oracle
FRIDAY: Quadruple witching, Fed's Lockhart speaks, iPhone 5 shipping date

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