NEW YORK (AP) — Weak earnings from U.S. companies tugged most stocks lower Friday afternoon. Industrial companies were among the worst performers after General Electric reported disappointing results. Intel slumped after issuing a poor revenue forecast.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,841 as of 2:46 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average, however, rose 56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,473. The Nasdaq composite fell 14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,203.
GENERAL ELECTRIC: GE slumped 73 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $26.47 after profit margins in the company's industrial unit fell short of its own targets. Still, GE reported higher revenue and profit for the fourth quarter, helped by rising sales in emerging markets, higher banking profit and stronger sales of aircraft engines.
INTEL: The chipmaker dropped 95 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $25.59 after its first-quarter revenue forecast disappointed Wall Street. Intel said revenue would reach $12.8 billion, "plus or minus" $500 million, less than financial analysts expected.
SLOW START LINGERS: The S&P 500 index is flat for the week and down 0.4 percent for the year. After a gain of almost 30 percent in 2013, investors want to see more evidence of a strengthening economy and improving earnings before paying more for stocks.
PUNISH THE WEAK: After the big run-up in stock prices last year, it now takes more to impress investors, says James Liu, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Funds. Investors are also taking a harder line on companies whose earnings don't live up to expectations.
"It's a bit of a strange situation," Liu said. "Because 2013 was so good and we are back at average valuations, earnings beats are going to be rewarded less than misses will be punished."
SPEAKING OF WHICH: Cosmetics maker Elizabeth Arden plunged $5.87, or 17 percent, to $26.63 in heavy trading. The company gave a dismal forecast for its fiscal second quarter and full year late Thursday, citing weak holiday sales.
HOLIDAY SPENDING: The holidays didn't hurt everyone. American Express rose $4.01, or 5 percent, to $91.79 after the company said late Thursday that its net income more than doubled in the fourth quarter. Amex cardholders boosted their spending and borrowing during the holiday season.
THE ECONOMY: U.S. home construction ended 2013 with the best showing since the housing bubble burst. But construction slowed in December. Builders broke ground last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's 9.8 percent lower than November's strong pace of 1.12 million.
UNEXPECTED DELIVERIES: United Parcel Service fell 66 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $99.83. The company said its earnings would be lower than it previously forecast because it misjudged holiday demand. The package delivery service said an "unprecedented" amount of online shopping included a surge of last-minute orders, forcing it to use more temporary employees than it had planned to.
TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 2.83 percent. The price of oil rose 20 cents to $94.16 a barrel. Gold climbed $12.60, or 1 percent, to $1,252.80 an ounce.