Tue January 25, 2011

Poor Earnings And Housing Slump Drain Stocks

Stocks ended flat Tuesday, after a round of disappointing corporate earnings and another drop in home prices. Several stocks rallied after taking initial hits in trading.

3M and Johnson & Johnson fell about 2 percent after announcing lower income for the last quarter.

DuPont's income fell but still beat expectations. Its stock rose 0.2 percent. Verizon's stock rose 1.4 percent after the phone company's profits surged. Verizon will start selling Apple Inc.'s iPhone next month.

Another Dow member, American Express Co., fell 2.8 percent after reporting earnings late Monday that came in below analysts' expectations.

Falling home prices helped push stocks lower. Prices fell in 19 out of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard and Poor's / Case Shiller home price in November.

At the market close, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 3 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 11,977. The Dow had been down as many as 82 points earlier.

The S&P 500 is up less than a point to 1,291.18. The Nasdaq gained 2, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,719.

Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1 billion shares.

Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist for Channel Capital Research.com, said that investors are looking ahead to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night and a Federal Reserve meeting that concludes Wednesday.

The Fed's $600 billion bond-buying plan, launched in November, was partially aimed at boosting stock prices. The S&P 500 has gained 8.5 percent in the last three months.

"As long as the Fed keeps pumping money into the economy," Roberts said, "stocks will probably keep going up."

Government spending and the public deficit are expected to be key topics in President Obama's address. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.