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Stocks Close Mixed; Apple Puts Dent in Nasdaq


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages traded mixed Thursday afternoon as better-than-expected U.S. economic indicators failed to push the Nasdaq back into positive territory amid Apple's(AAPL) sharp price decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 46 points, or 0.33%, at 13,825.

Breadth was positive, as winners outpaced losers 19 to nine. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Walt Disney (DIS) were unchanged. The biggest percentage blue-chip gainers were Cisco(CSCO) , Home Depot (HD) , DuPont(DD) , Dupont(DD) and Boeing(BA) .

Boeing shares rose 1.4%. Delta(DAL) is talking to Airbus and Boeing about buying $1 billion or more of new jets as planemakers phase out their current single-aisle models, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. Delta shares climbed 0.94%.

Software giant Microsoft is expected by analysts Thursday to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of 75 cents a share on revenue of $21.6 billion after the closing bell. Shares were up incrementally ahead of the announcement.

Alcoa(AA) , Intel(INTC) , Verizon(VZ) and Procter & Gamble (PG) shares were among the stocks that were trading lower.

3M (MMM) , the diversified technology company, posted in-line fourth-quarter earnings of $1.41 a share and revenue of $7.4 billion, which beat the Wall Street sales estimate of $7.18 billion. Organic local-currency sales grew 4.3% in the period, and acquisitions added 0.9% to sales. The stock added 0.23% a share on Thursday.

3M affirmed its 2013 full-year performance earnings expectations of $6.70 to $6.95 a share, with CEO Inge Thulin saying that 3M has "built good momentum to innovate and move forward in 2013."

The S&P 500 was effectively flat at 1495. Earlier Thursday the index crossed 1500 for the first time since December 2007. The Nasdaq fell 23 points, or 0.74%, at 3130.

Most sectors in the broader market were trading higher except for technology and basic materials. The strongest sectors were consumer cyclicals, transportation, health care, financials and conglomerates.

Volumes rose to 3.67 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange and a heavy 2.04 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers were edging decliners by a 1.3-to-1 ratio on the Big Board and 1.2-to-1 on Nasdaq.

Apple shares plunged 12.4% Thursday after its fiscal first-quarter revenue trailed forecasts, earnings per share fell and profit margins shrank .

Even with the S&P 500 managing to touch five-year highs during Thursday's trading session, the market looks like it can continue to move higher, at least for now, according to strategists.

Michael Pento, president of Pento Portfolio Strategies, said he is "mildly bullish" on equities for the next two months.

"Strong money supply growth and the bond bubble being at its apogee will cause the S&P 500 to rise 5% to 7% by the middle of March. However, I also feel the economy will continue to be mired in stagflation and start to slow even further due to the mild condition of austerity coming from D.C.," said Pento. "That will cause the markets to pause in the spring."