Stocks Turn Mixed; Utilities Gain, Pfizer Falls

Stocks turned mixed in quiet trading after a varied batch of earnings reports, as investors took a step back after sending the market to multi-year highs in April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuated between positive and negative territory throughout the morning session afteredging slightly lower on Monday, reversing earlier gains following the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Among Dow components, Alcoa , Bank of America and Intel rose, while Pfizer and Cisco gained.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell slightly. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market,rose above 16.

Among key S&P sectors, energy and materials declined, while telecom advanced.

U.S. factory orders gained 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted $463 billion in March, the Commerce Department reported. The gain was the fifth in a row, and was above the 1.9 percent gain estimated by economists polled by Reuters.

A survey by Charles Schwab indicated 72 percent of so-called active traders who are receiving a tax refund plan plan to invest the proceeds in the stock market. Schwab defines active traders as individual investors who trade at least 36 times a year.

Schwab also said 47 percent of its active traders are bullish, up from 38 percent in November, and up from 28 percent in April 2010.

The dollar, which is hovering near a three-year low against a basket of currencies, traded flat. Earlier, a slight rise in the dollar sent commodity prices lower. Oil prices fellmore than 1 percent while gold sankmore than 1 percent and silver continued tumbled another 5 percent.

The market "feels weaker than it has over the past few months," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading. "Dips aren’t bought as quickly as they normally were. Yesterday's event, may have signaled some sort of top."

Saluzzi said he wouldn't be surprised if the market did pull back at this point, saying the market is due for a revaluation. Strategist who see the market going higher based are looking too narrowly at corporate results, and aren't considering issues facing the economy, such as the end of the Federal Reserve's bond buying program.

"There's a dicthotomy between corporations and real people," Saluzzi said. "If you believe the consumer is 70 percent of the economy, they aren't spending."

In corporate news, shares of Alcoa surged on talk Rio Tinto was planning to buy the aluminum producer. Neither company would comment on the rumors, Reuters said. Activity in the options market also heated up as traders speculated on the deal.

General Motors gained after reporting a 27 percent jump in April sales,much more than expected, thanks to strong sales of small cars, including the Chevrolet Cruze, and crossover vehicles. Nissan fell slightly after reporting its sales rose 12.7 percent in April from a year earlier.

Overall, automakers are expected to show a 16 percent increase in sales for April, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of economists and analysts, as problems caused by the multiple disasters in Japanweren't expected to show up in new auto purchases until May.

Earnings results continued to be released on Tuesday. Of the 359 companies reporting so far, representing 72 percent of all S&P 500 companies, 70 percent beat earnings estimates and 69 percent beat revenue estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.

Pfizer slipped after falling short of revenue expectations, although the pharmaceutical company's results were a penny ahead of estimates at 60 cents a share.


Mastercard gained after reporting a jump in profitsthat beat expectations. The credit card processing company earned $4.29 a share, beating estimates of $4.10 a share, according to Reuters. The company earned $3.46 a share a year ago.

But Archer Daniels Midland sank despite meeting earnings expectations and exceeding revenue estimates. Shares for the agricultural food processor are up about 23 percent so far this year.

And Sears slid after forecasting a first quarter loss. The retailer is holding a shareholder meeting today.

Molson Coors also fell after reporting earnings that fell short of estimates, although sales were better than expected.

Comcast , CBS and Green Mountain Coffee release results after the market closes.

In M&A news, Total, a European energy firm, launched a friendly offer for solar-power company SunPower .

API oil and gasoline inventories will be released after the bell, ahead of data from the Department of Energy, which will be released on Wednesday.

Stocks in Asiaended the day mostly lower with Japanese markets closed and in Europe shares traded slightly lower in morning trade as the London market re-opened after public holidays on Friday and Monday. Meanwhile, the UK economy is showing continuing signs of sluggishness, and manufacturing expanded at the slowest rate in seven months.

European shares closed down as mining and oil stocks fell.

On Tap This Week:

TUESDAY: Earnings after-the-bell from Comcast and CBS.
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications, Challenger job-cut report, Fed's Rosengren speaks, ADP employment report, ISM non-manufacturing index, oil inventories, Fed's Lockhart speaks; earnings before-the-bell from Anheuser-Busch, AOL, Kellogg, and Time Warner, and after-the-bell from Electronic Arts, MetLife, News Corp, Transocean and Whole Foods.
THURSDAY: Bank of England rate announcement, European Central Bank announcement, chain store sales, jobless claims, productivity and costs, Treasury STRIPS, money supply; Fed Chairman Bernanke speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, UPS shareholder meeting, Verizon shareholder meeting; earnings before-the-bell from GM, Cigna, CVS Caremark and after-the-bell from AIG, Kraft and Visa.
FRIDAY: Non-farm payroll report, consumer credit, Alcoa shareholder meeting, flash crash anniversary; earnings before-the-bell from Constellation Energy and tentatively after-the-bell from Berkshire Hathaway.

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