US stocks end mixed; IBM weighs on Dow; Nasdaq rises

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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.

S&P 500

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 41.10 points, 0.3 percent, to 16,373.34, with IBM pacing losses.

The S&P 500 gained 1.06 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,844.86, with materials the weakest performer and energy the strongest of its 10 major sectors.

The Nasdaq rose 17.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,243.

Advanced Micro Devices slid after the maker of personal-computer processors forecast first-quarter revenue that disappointed investors. BlackBerry climbed after the embattled smartphone maker said it would sell much of its Canadian real estate.Shares of Coach fell after the luxury-accessories retailer reported quarterly revenue that missed estimates. Norfolk Southern reported better-than-expected earnings, with shares of the railroad company jumping. Apple shares were modestly higher after Carl Icahn lashed out against the iPhone maker over his desire that the company boost its share buybacks. The activist investor also tweeted that he had upped his stake in Apple.

The dollar edged higher against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners. The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 3 basis points to 2.868 percent.

The cost of crude rose $1.76, or 1.8 percent, to $96.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where gold futures fell $3.20, or 0.3 percent, to $1,238.60 an ounce.

U.S. stocks finished mixed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 rising for a first session in three, and the Dow knocked after results from Verizon Communications, Travelers Companies and Johnson & Johnson.

"Why isn't the market continuing to scale new heights on almost a daily basis the way it did late last year? Everyone seems recently to have concluded that stocks aren't cheap," Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardini Research, noted in emailed commentary.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Thursday: Earnings: Microsoft, Samsung, Starbucks, McDonald's, Fifth Third, Lockheed Martin, Nokia, Southwest Air, Johnson Controls, Celanese, Altera, Juniper Networks, KLA-Tencor, Synaptics, ETrade, Federated Investors, Intuitive Surgical, KeyCorp, AmerisourceBergen, Baxter, Union Pacific. 8:30 a.m.: initial claims, 8:58 a.m.: manufacturing PMI 9:00 a.m.: FHFA HPI, 10:00 a.m.: existing home sales, 10:00 a.m.: leading indicators.

Friday: Earnings: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Procter and Gamble, Honeywell, Kansas City Southern, Kimberly-Clark, Stanley Black & Decker, State Street, Xerox, Covidien, Prosperity Bancshares, WW Grainger.

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