Stocks Remain Lower; Dow Back Below 10,000

Stocks pared some of their earlier losses but were still lower as disappointing results from Bank of America and General Electric eclipsed strong results from big techs.

The Dow bounced back but was still below the 10,000 level in mid-afternoon trading. Stocks were also hurt by a report showing a surprise drop in consumer sentiment.

The Dow has finished above 10,000 for two straight days, closing at 10,062.94 on Thursday.

A gauge of consumer sentiment dropped to 69.4 in a mid-October reading from 73.5 at the end of September. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the measure to rise to 73.8.

In the day's other economic news, industrial production rose in September for a third straight month. The gauge rose 0.7 percent; economists surveyed had expected a more modest 0.2-percent increase.

General Electric , the parent of CNBC, beat analysts' earnings target but missed on revenue.

Bank of America also disappointed, reporting a wider-than-expected loss as an improvement at its Merrill Lynch investment-banking unit was offset by consumer-credit problems.

Bank of America made news late yesterday when it revealed that CEO Ken Lewis, who is retiring at year's end, has agreed to give up his salary and bonusfor2009.

Techs rocked earnings, with three companies beating after the bell yesterday.

Googlebeat on both profit and revenue, and in fact logged its strongest sequential revenue growth in more than a year, as advertising began to improve. Shares rose more than 3 percent.

IBM topped expectations and raised its outlook as the company focused on higher-margin software and services. But shares fell as investors locked in some profits.

Advanced Micro Devices lost money during the quarter but beat on revenue. Shares fell more than 6 percent.

This came a few days after rival chip maker Intel predicted that PC sales would grow by the end of the year. Even Intel shares were down today, off more than 2 percent.

Wal-Mart has thrown the gauntlet in its price war with Amazon : The discount giant slashed its price on new hardcovers, including Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" and John Grisham's "Ford County," to $10 — and then $9. Amazon matched both price points.

Microsoft was hit by pirates: A week before the official launch of its Windows 7 operating system, bootleg copies of the software were availableon the streets of China for less than $3 — a fraction of the list price, $320.

— Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.