Dell Boosts Tech, But Oil Weighs on Dow

Stocks were mixed as investors pondered a flatlining economy, moderate inflation, more gains for oil and strong technology earnings.

A slew of morning economic news showed personal spending up, inflation moderating and consumer sentiment falling but in line with expectations.

The market took little notice of any of the reports, though the Dow did register a slight move downward following the 10 am Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. The blue-chip index waffled through the morning, drifting into negative territory after two hours of trading.

The tech barometer Nasdaq was up the most, the day after Dellreported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales after the bell, citing strong demand for laptops and lower operating costs. Dell led gainers on the S&P.

But as oil reversed earlier losses, the Dow and S&P moved flat.

The trading day was setting up as another example of the market reacting to news that wasn't disastrous, even though the nearly flat growth in wages showed a sputtering economy.

"It's the last day of the month and you've got a lot of these indices at or near their 200-day moving averages," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS. "The S&P in fact is critical. If they can get it to close above, for argument's sake, 1,405, then they may turn the whole monthly chart around. ... The final hour's going to be watched very closely here to see if there's any gamesmanship going on to try and put them over the top."

Marvell Technology, whose microchips are used in Apple's iPhone, also boosted the tech index, a day after the company reported a first-quarter profit. The company's shares were upgraded by JPMorgan and surged more than 20 percent after the opening bell to be among the top percentage gainers on the Nasdaq.

Shares were indicating lower for UAL's United Airlines, after the company's CEO said the company would not continue merger talkes with US Airways , with United looking more closely at an alliance with Continental .

New York light crude futures reversed earlier losses and pushed oil above $127 a barrel.

In earnings, jewelry retailer Tiffany reported a 19 percent increase in first-quarter profit, sending shares up 4.5 percent in premarket trading.

Johnson & Johnson opened higher on news that a drug it developed with Bayer has again proven better than a standard treatment in preventing dangerous blood clots among patients undergoing orthopedic surgery. The development was seen as positive for chances the drug would win federal government approval.

And NBC Universal, the parent of CNBC, and Blackstone are looking to make a $1.8 billion all-stock bid for the Weather Channel, Reuters reported.

Financials were among the biggest drags on the Dow, the day after the sector moved broadly higher.

The biggest losers of the group were Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.