A batch of U.S. company earnings drove stocks mostly higher on Thursday.
The major stock indexes shifted between small gains and losses ahead of their scheduled close for Good Friday. The gains kept the indexes ahead for the week, though the remained down for the month.
The market appeared set Thursday morning for its fourth-consecutive positive open this week, but immediately turned negative as investors sold shares in Google and IBM. The market heavyweights reported disappointing earnings late Wednesday. Earnings from toy maker Mattel and insurer UnitedHealth also dragged down the market.
But by midmorning, the market started to push higher as traders cheered upbeat results from Morgan Stanley, General Electric and PepsiCo.
"We were expecting this earnings season to be pretty volatile, and it's proven to be true so far, in that we're seeing some differences in the results," said Paul Mangus, head of equity research and strategy for Wells Fargo Private Bank.
By late afternoon, the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite were trending higher. While big drops in IBM and UnitedHealth helped keep the Dow Jones industrial average in the red.
All told, the S&P 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,864.85. Seven of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 increased, led by energy stocks. The Nasdaq added nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,095.52. The Dow, however, slipped 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,408.54.
Bond prices fell, pushing up the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.72 percent from 2.63 percent late Wednesday.
After selling off Internet and biotechnology companies last week on concerns the stocks were overvalued, investors turned their attention this week to how companies' businesses are performing.
Investors have lowered their expectations for earnings following severe cold in much of the country this winter. That harsh weather weighed on everything from auto and home sales to hiring. Investors are now eager to hear what CEOs have to say about business prospects going ahead.
Thursday's trading reflected buying and selling on earnings news, rather than a broader market theme taking hold, Mangus said.