- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended an erratic session mixed yesterday as investors weighed slightly higher oil prices against strong earnings from companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

The major indexes wavered throughout the day as investors tracked fluctuations in crude oil futures, which settled at $59.12 a barrel, up 20 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Rising oil prices, which could lead to lower consumer spending and declining corporate earnings, have shadowed stocks for months and distracted investors yesterday from the crop of upbeat earnings reports.

Wall Street also reacted strongly to any company news that strayed from expectations. Investors punished chemical maker DuPont Co. because its sales fell below forecasts, but bid up Lockheed Martin Corp., the nation’s biggest defense contractor, whose forecast for the year was above expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.71, or 0.16 percent, to 10,579.77.

Broader stock indicators were higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2.13, or 0.17 percent, to 1,231.16, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 9.25, or 0.43 percent, to 2,175.99.

Bonds were higher, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury falling to 4.23 percent from 4.25 percent late Monday. The U.S. dollar was up against the euro. Gold prices were flat.

The stock market isn’t reacting to solid earnings because “there’s much more discounting of risk than there has been in the past; the risk of higher oil prices, the risk of higher interest rates,” said Hans F. Olsen, managing director and chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers, a private wealth management firm in Boston. “This has been buffeting the stock market for the better part of a the year.”

Americans’ faith in the economy as measured by the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index edged lower in July after three months of gains. Lynn Franco, director of the organization’s Consumer Research Center, said the dip, to 103.2 from the June reading of 106.2, was “no cause for concern.”

DuPont fell $2.89 to $41.15, although the company beat earnings forecasts. Lockheed Martin, which also beat expectations, gained $1.48 to $63.99.

Amazon.com Inc. reported sharply lower earnings but beat analysts’ estimates. Its stock, which closed regular trading down 21 cents to $37.74, gained $2.48 to reach $40.22 in extended trading.

Advancing issues led decliners roughly 3-to-2 on the New York Stock Exchange.

, where volume came to 1.48 billion shares, up from 1.31 billion Monday.

The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies rose 3.59, or 0.54 percent, to 674.58.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.21 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.28 percent, France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.03 percent for the session, and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.02 percent.

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