U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Wednesday as Wall Street found little clarity in quarterly results from companies including Texas Instruments, Norfolk Southern and International Business Machines.
"At the beginning of the week, we knew there was not going to be any data really, so you had to focus attention elsewhere. Even the currency traders were looking at the U.S. earnings story for direction on the economy," said Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist, EverBank. But the results are a "mixed bag; it is hard to read what we're seeing right now," he added.
IBM shares fell after the Dow component reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings that topped expectations, but revenue that missed. Texas Instruments said it would eliminate 1,100 jobs in the United States, India and Japan, becoming the second major U.S. chip manufacturer to announce employee reductions in the past week. United Technologies gained after the maker of elevators and air conditioners reported a rise in fourth-quarter profit that beat estimates.
Wall Street is "now back to the old normal," noted Gaffney, referring to the trend of companies missing revenue estimates but beating on earnings, mainly due to cost cutting.