Stocks edge lower as investors assess earnings
New York • Stocks edged mostly lower Wednesday as investors pored over the latest batch of company earnings reports. IBM dropped after its revenue fell short of forecasts from financial analysts. Chipmaker AMD also plunged after predicting a drop in revenue in the first quarter.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,841 as of 11:22 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,350. The Nasdaq composite gained three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,229.
BIG BLUES: IBM fell $6.74, or 3.6 percent, to $181.81 after the computing company reported lower-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter. Revenue fell 5.5 percent, hurt by a drop at IBM's hardware business. Profit rose 6 percent and adjusted earnings beat Wall Street predictions, however. The company has reported declining revenues for seven straight quarters, according to analysts at RBC Capital.
HANDBAGS: Coach fell $3.50, or 6.7 percent, to $49.03 after the luxury goods maker reported a lower quarterly profit, citing weakness in women's bags and accessories in North America. Coach is facing tough competition from rivals like Michael Kors Holdings.
EARLY TRENDS: There are lots of companies still to report earnings, but so far the stock market has failed to get a lift from the reports that have come out. After big gains for stocks last year, in which the S&P 500 climbed nearly 30 percent, investors want to see evidence that companies can boost their earnings through higher revenue growth rather than cutting expenses.
"It's all about (revenue) outlooks, clearly that's what matters," said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "It doesn't seem like there's been much to get excited about."
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: Much like last year, small companies are again outperforming their larger counterparts. While the S&P 500 has moved sideways since the start of year, and is down 0.3 percent this month, the Russell 2000, an index that tracks smaller companies, is up 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq composite is up 1.4 percent.
THE CHIPS FALL: Advanced Micro Devices plunged 46 cents, or 11 percent, to $3.71 after the company said late Tuesday that it expected its first-quarter revenue to fall 13 percent to 19 percent from the fourth quarter. That would translate into first-quarter revenue ranging from $1.29 billion to $1.38 billion, mostly below Wall Street's predictions.
AMONG THE GAINERS: TE Connectivity jumped $3.42, or 6.1 percent, to $59.67 after the electronics company reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations and posted a strong earnings outlook for the second quarter.
TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.84 percent from 2.83 percent late Tuesday. The price of oil rose $1.25, or 1.3 percent, to $96.23 a barrel. Gold was little changed from Tuesday at $1,241.50 an ounce.