NEW YORK - Wall Street paused yesterday, with stocks little changed as strong profit reports from names such as Apple Inc. and 3M Corp. failed to galvanize the market a day after the Dow Jones industrial average crossed 13,000. Still, a modest advance in the Dow gave the blue chips another record close.
Investors often tread water and reassess valuations after stocks push through technical or psychological barriers such as the Dow's ascent past 13,000 Wednesday. Beyond the Dow's move, investors were also keeping watch over the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which in recent sessions has crept closer to its high of 1,527.46, reached in March 2000.
Better-than-expected profit news, which helped vault the Dow into record territory Wednesday and to a new trading high yesterday, continued but with less effect than in the previous session.
Apple said its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 88 percent amid robust sales of iPods and Macintosh computers. Reports from Dow component 3M and automaker Ford Motor Co. also pleased investors.
"Once you go through what people consider a milestone, you are often going to have a little rest," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management. "Earnings are lending support to the market. Obviously, there are some disappointments, but they're much above what people were expecting."
The Dow rose 15.61, or 0.12 percent, to 13,105.50 after hitting a fresh trading high of 13,132.80. Yesterday marked the Dow's 18th rise in the last 20 sessions and its 36th record close since the start of October. The gains of the last two days left the Dow up more than 5 percent for the year.
Broader indexes ended mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 1.17, or 0.08 percent, to 1,494.25, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.57, or 0.26 percent, to 2,554.46.
Bonds fell amid the continuation of strong earnings reports. The yield on the 10-year note rose to 4.69 percent from 4.65 percent late Wednesday.
The Dow swept past its latest milestone Wednesday amid better-than-expected earnings and economic data. But the question on investors' minds is whether upcoming data will prove that the market's recent rally was justified, or overdone.
While the economic calendar is busier next week, Kiddoo contended that earnings would continue to drive stocks until midweek or so, when investors would begin to focus on the government's employment report, due to arrive next Friday.
So far, 22 of the 30 Dow components have reported earnings, with 16 of those reports topping expectations. Dow component Exxon Mobil Corp. released better-than-expected earnings yesterday; it rose 63 cents to $80.55. Microsoft Corp.'s fiscal third-quarter results, which the company announced after the closing bell, also came in ahead of expectations. Microsoft finished up 11 cents at $29.10, and rose in after-hours electronic trading.