US stocks close mixed on uneven economic signals

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm •  Published: January 28, 2013
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Oil company Hess Inc. was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, adding 6.1 percent after the company said it plans to sell its U.S. terminal network, shutter its New Jersey refinery and continue shifting its focus to exploration and production. Hess also said that the hedge fund Elliott Associates plans to seek regulatory approval to buy a major stake in the company. Hess rose $3.58 to $62.48.

Several big tech companies reported their results after the market closed and saw big price swings in after-hours trading:

— Web portal Yahoo Inc. rose 81 cents, or 4 percent, to $21.12 after saying its fourth-quarter earnings topped analyst estimates as an upturn in its international investments helped end a three-year revenue slump.

— Hard disk maker Seagate Technology PLC said it beat analysts' estimates in its results for the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 28. It rose 69 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $38.10 after hours.

— Cloud computing provider VMWare Inc. said its net income edged higher, but the company announced guidance that was far weaker than analysts had expected. VMWare lost $10.83, or 11 percent, to $87.49 after hours.

Strong corporate earnings helped push the S&P 500 through the 1,500 milestone Friday after several calm, relatively news-free weeks. In addition to companies' performance, traders have been encouraged by signals that housing market is improving steadily and hiring is picking up, albeit slowly.

There will plenty of fresh data to drive trading this week, including retail sales, economic growth and the government's report on hiring and employment in January, which is due out Friday. More than one-fifth of the companies in the S&P 500 will report fourth-quarter earnings this week.

Stone said stocks are trading sideways in part because many investors are awaiting economic reports later this week, especially the employment report. There is agreement among economists and analysts that the economy slowed in the fourth quarter, he said, and this week's numbers will help answer the question of "how slow, and how much did it impact employment."

The yield in the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.97 percent from 1.95 percent late Friday, reflecting lower demand for ultra-safe investments. After Monday's factory orders report, the yield rose briefly above 2 percent for the first time since April. A bond's yield rises as demand for it decreases.

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Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports .