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Stocks Mixed After Working on Railroad

(Updated with stock prices.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major averages closed mixed Tuesday after struggling to find footing despite help from Warren Buffett's latest bet.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 17.53 points, or 0.2%, to 9771.91, while the S&P 500 rose 2.53 points, or 0.2%, 1045.41. The Nasdaq edged up 8.12 points, or 0.4%, to 2057.32.

Berkshire Hathaway announced its biggest acquisition ever, buying the 77% of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI) it doesn't already own for about $26 billion in cash and stock, valuing the company at $34 billion.

The deal helped the transports, but other stocks were less responsive.

"We've had plenty of good news coming out of the economic numbers, and I think there's a little bit of nervousness ahead of the employment data," says Anu Sharma, managing director of the market intelligence desk at Nasdaq. "Volumes have not been overly significant, which indicates a lot of money on the sidelines -- what we're seeing is the market trade off technicals."

The Dow dipped to just below its 50-day moving average -- 9728 -- before recovering Tuesday. "If that's broken we're looking at another 3% before it hits another resistance level," says Sharma. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 already broke through those levels last week -- their next support levels are 4% and 1.5% lower, respectively, he says.

"The heart of it is that investors are starting to look at some of the financial stocks, which haven't been performing all that well -- and I think the expectations are now that the earnings season has wound down, that we see some better economic data," says Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners. "We had a little bit yesterday and that gave the market support, we also had better GDP numbers ... but there hasn't been the follow-through. Good data has been followed by weak data."

Click below to hear my entire conversation with Nolte, including his thoughts on the Fed meeting, the dollar, and the upcoming employment report.

The Department of Commerce said factory orders increased slightly more than expected, by 0.9% in September, after an 0.8% decline the month prior.

The search for clues on economic progress will turn to the Federal Open Market Committee as it begins a two-day meeting Tuesday. Its statement, which will be released Wednesday, will be closely watched for any changes in policy-makers' view of the pace of the recovery, discussion of changes to the Fed's key interest rate, and wording regarding withdrawal plans for recovery measures.

Among the day's movers, UBS (UBS - Get Report) -- down 3.3% -- reported its fourth straight quarterly loss after greater than expected accounting charges.

Meanwhile, Dow component Intel (INTC - Get Report) fell more than 2.9% after downgrades in the semiconductor space. Fellow component Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Get Report) edged down slightly after it said it will cut 6% to 7% of its workforce in a restructuring.
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INTC $30.36 -0.82%
JNJ $112.69 -0.05%
RBS $6.52 -4.82%
UBS $15.91 -7.66%
SWK $110.58 -1.34%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,750.91 -140.25 -0.78%
S&P 500 2,063.37 -18.06 -0.87%
NASDAQ 4,763.2240 -54.37 -1.13%

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