Wednesday stocks are mixed, investors make few moves

Dow now at 10,400, minus 5 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were narrowly mixed in listless trading Wednesday as investors found little reason to extend the previous day’s rally.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 4 points and all the other major indexes were narrowly mixed. Interest rates fell again in the Treasury market as investors kept seeking out more secure alternatives to stocks.
There was barely any news to motivate stock investors, and certainly not any that would persuade them to continue the rally that sent the Dow up 103 points Tuesday. There were no big economic reports planned Wednesday. On Tuesday, a stream of improving numbers fed the rally.
Retailers continued reporting their second-quarter earnings, and investors were ambivalent about the results.
Target Corp. missed analysts’ forecasts for its second quarter revenue and offered a muted outlook for sales for the rest of the year. But the company told analysts it hopes to offset weak sales with higher sales of groceries and its new discounts for credit card holders. Target initially fell sharply, then recovered to a moderate advance.
Meanwhile, BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. lowered its earnings outlook for the year. Its stock dropped.
The reports came a day after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. issued numbers that were more upbeat. So investors were again presented with numbers that appeared contradictory, and that spelled more uncertainty about the economy.
Wednesday’s trading was muted, and that was to be expected after investors on Tuesday showed their first real enthusiasm for stocks in weeks and sent the Dow up 103 points. There were no big economic reports planned Wednesday. And any big gains were likely to be given back simply because investors don’t trust stocks to put together a solid advance.
The Dow fell 4.69, or 0.1 percent, to 10,401.01. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.84, or 0.1 percent, to 1,093.38. The Nasdaq composite index rose 7.81, or 0.4 percent, to 2,217.25
Gainers were ahead of losers by 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was 316 million shares.
Treasurys remained a destination for investors seeking a safer place than stocks to put their money. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.61 percent from 2.64 percent late Tuesday.
John Stoltzfus, senior market strategist with Ticonderoga Securities in New York, said the market is becoming increasingly dominated by a “What have you done for me lately?” attitude and responding to daily reports about the economy.
“We live from economic data point to economic data point,” he said. “That will probably continue at least until the end of the summer as we wait for some kind of catalyst that would give the market better definition.”
Volume was again extremely light, mostly because of vacations, but also because many investors don’t have enough of a sense of the economy’s strength. That’s making them hold off of any major moves.
BHP Billiton’s $38.5 billion takeover offer for fertilizer producer Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan turned hostile Wednesday. Potash had called BHP’s offer grossly inadequate. The announcement of the bid and Potash’s rejection Tuesday helped feed the rally in stocks. Mergers and acquisitions activity tends to lift the market because it shows investors’ confidence in the economy.
Target rose $1.22, or 2.4 percent, to $51.90. BJ’s fell $1.88, or 4.3 percent, to $41.43.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.9 percent. In later European trading, London’s FT-SE 100 index fell 0.8 percent. Germany’s DAX index fell 0.3 percent, while the CAC-40 index in Paris fell 0.7 percent.

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