* Dow off 0.3 pct, S&P up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , Jan 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks mostly rose onTuesday, with the S&P 500 snapping a two-session decline as thematerials sector rallied, though the Dow fell on disappointingearnings by three of its components.
Trading was volatile, with the S&P fluctuating betweenpositive and negative territory throughout the session, whilethe Dow moved between modest and solid losses and the Nasdaqswung between modest and strong gains.
The S&P materials index rose 0.6 percent as one ofthe best performing major S&P indexes, led by a 6.6 percent gainin Dow Chemical to $45.93. Activist investor and hedgefund manager Daniel Loeb has taken a stake in the company andwants it to spin off its petrochemical arm.
Energy stocks, another group with some correlationto the pace of economic growth, advanced 0.5 percent.
"We still think economically-sensitive stocks have room torun... Those have the potential to be long-term winners," saidJeff Mortimer, director of investment strategy for BNY MellonWealth Management in Boston.
Travelers fell 1.7 percent to $85 after posting a profitthat beat expectations, though investors worried about theinsurance provider's margins. Verizon lost 1.3 percent to$47.70, while J&J dropped 1.1 percent to $94.03 after it gave aforecast at the low end of analyst expectations.
According to Thomson Reuters (Frankfurt: TOC.F - news) data, earnings for the fourthquarter are expected to grow 7 percent over the prior year. Ofthe 61 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reportedso far, about 56 percent topped analyst expectations, below thelong-term average of 63 percent. About 71 percent have toppedrevenue forecasts, above the long-term average of 61 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 44.12points, or 0.27 percent, at 16,414.44. The Standard & Poor's 500Index was up 5.10 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,843.80.The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 28.18 points, or 0.67percent, at 4,225.76.
As the Federal Reserve has embarked on its plan to reducestimulus, investors will closely monitor corporate profits forsigns of growth. About eight companies have issued negativeoutlooks for every positive one, which would mark the lowestratio on record should it continue.
"Results are running light, and negative announcements havebeen off the hook with very high levels of negative guidance,"said Mortimer, who helps oversee about $185 billion in clientassets. "The market pays a premium for growth, and the stocksthat have rallied and then disappointed are susceptible to largedrops almost immediately."
International Business Machines Corp fell 3.4percent to $182.01 in after-hours trading. The Dow componentreported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings that beatexpectations, but revenue was below consensus.
Texas Instruments Inc (NasdaqGS: TXN - news) shares fell 1.3 percent to$43.30 after the bell despite the company reportingfourth-quarter revenue that beat expectations. Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD - news) slumped 11.5 percent to $3.69after the bell.
Cree Inc rose 4.2 percent after the market closedafter posting second-quarter revenue that topped expectations.
U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry Ltd were the topboost to the Nasdaq 100, jumping 9.4 percent to $9.93 asshort-sellers bailed out of the smartphone maker. The stock isup about 33 percent in 2014.
About 63 percent of companies that trade on the New YorkStock Exchange closed higher while 59 percent of Nasdaq-listednames ended in positive territory. About 6.78 billion sharestraded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data.
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