Stocks Mixed Ahead of Close; Tech Advances

Stocks continued to trade mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq performing best, despite a batch of largely stronger earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 20 points. American Express, Verizon, and Home Depot fell, while Hewlett-Packard and Walt Disney rose.

The S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq rose, after rising modestly in Thursday's session.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell to nearly 19.

Materials, utilities, telecom and sectors fell, while technology rose.

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit a golden crossthis week—that's when the 50-day moving average crosses above the 200-day moving average. The golden cross is a signal the indices could move higher, according to technical strategists.

While the S&P 500 has posted impressive gains since the summer, Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer's Investment Research, believes those gains can continue given the amount of money sitting on the sidelines.

"We like to see some evidence there is some sideline money that can at least confirm this golden cross will play out as expected, and/or push the S&P above its resistance levels," he said. "We think that’s available."

The Dow, meanwhile, continued to retreat after crossing through 11,205 during trading on Thursday. That was the highest close of the year, reached on April 26.

After falling for five weeks, the dollar was on track to end the week higher against a basket of currencies, as the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations met to address currency tension. Analysts do not expect currency concerns to end anytime soon, or any resolution of the dispute between the U.S. and China over the low level of the Chinese yuan.

Several companies reported earnings late Thursday and early Friday, although their largely positive tone didn't lend much support to the broader market.

One exception was in Internet and technology stocks.

Amazon was up nearly 3 percent after several brokerages raised their price targets for the Internet retailer after it reported earnings Thursday after the close. Some brokerages, however, cited concerns with Amazon's operating margins.

SanDisk posted good resultsafter-the-bell Thursday, and provided an optimistic forecast based on strong demand for smartphones and tablets.

Baidu , a Chinese language Internet search provider, soared after reporting strong profits and sales on increased traffic. Several brokerages raised their ratings and price target for the company.

Meanwhile Citrix shares rose ahead of its earnings release after the closing bell Friday, after several upgrades by brokerages.

Elsewhere in tech news, Google shares were modestly lower after news that some of the companys' cars that collect street views for its map program accidentally collected emails and passwords. The problem was first reported in the spring, but Google said Friday that the data contained more than fragments, as initially reported.

Hewlett-Packard's share rose after the tech giant unveiled a $799 tabletcomputer for business customers.

In the financial services sector, Dow component American Express's quarterly earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street expectations, but the shares skidded nearly 3 percent on continued worries about the government's lawsuit against the company over credit-card processing fees.

KeyCorp's shares rose after posting higher-than-expected profits of 20 cents a share, up from a loss 52 cents a share a year earlier. The regional bank, based in Cleveland, Ohio, had fewer bad commercial real estate loans.

Overall, the banking sector was slightly higher as measured by the Keefe Bruyette Woods Banking Index as concerns over the fallout from the foreclosure crisis continued to overhang the sector.

Verizon's shares fell after the company reported a drop in profits Friday morning, as the number of wireless contract customers dropped.

Schlumberger's shares rose nearly 5 percent after the oilfield services provider reported strong profits and revenues on growth in its onshore U.S. oil and natural gas businesses offset a drop-off in business from the Gulf of Mexico.

Honeywell International's shares were higher after reporting profits that topped expectationson stronger demand for airline and automotive parts, and the diversified manufacturer raised in outlook.

Shares of Ingersoll-Rand were up slightly after the diversified manufacturer posted third-quarter profits that were higher than expected of 68 cents a share, while revenues were in line with expectations.

Caterpillar's shares were slightly lower after news the maker of construction equipment is buying MWM Holding, a German engine company, from 3i, a private-equity firm, for for 580 million euros, or about $810 million, to expand options for customers of its electric power division.

On the economic front, comments made by St Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard on Thursday added to speculation that the Federal Reserve will opt for further monetary easing at its next policy meeting in November.

Bullard said he would back Fed purchases of Treasury securities in $100 billion increments meeting-by-meeting if the US central bank decides monetary easing is necessary.

On the Calendar for Next Week:

MONDAY: Existing home sales; before-the-bell earnings from Invesco and Lorillard; after-the-bell earnings from Harris.
TUESDAY: S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, consumer confidence, two-year Treasury note auction; before-the-bell earnings from DuPont, Ford, Bristol-Myers Squibb, CIT Group, Johnson Controls, Kimberly-Clark, and Wyndham Worldwide; after-the-bell earnings from Broadcom, Dreamworks and Massey Energy.
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, durable goods, new home sales, oil inventories, five-year Treasury note auction; before-the-bell earnings from Comcast, P&G, SAP, ConocoPhillips, Deutsche Bank, Dr. Pepper Snapple, General Dynamics, Owens Corning; after-the-bell earnings from Allstate, Owens Illinois.
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, natural gas inventories, 7-year Treasury note auction; before-the-bell earnings from Shell, AutoNation, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Duke Energy, Motorola, Potash, Starwood Hotels, and Thomson Reuters; after-the-bell earnings from Microsoft and MetLife.
FRIDAY: GDP, employment cost index, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment, farm prices; before-the-bell earnings from Chevron, Merck, Cigna, Constellation Energy and Estee Lauder.

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