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Stocks Close Mixed as Dow Hits 2007 High

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages were mixed Tuesday as Pfizer (PFE) shares popped on the drugmaker's quarterly report and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) jumped following a product announcement. Data released Tuesday showed continued improvement in the housing market.

The Nasdaq slumped as the technology sector edged lower as analysts dissected a number of tech earnings releases, including those from Yahoo! (YHOO) and Seagate (STX). The index tried to claw higher, paring losses amid Apple's gains.

Earlier Tuesday, Ford (F - Get Report) provided a downbeat outlook for its European operations and has been seeing its shares sell off.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 72 points, or 0.5%, to 13,954 for its highest close since October 2007.

Breadth was positive, with winners outpacing losers 20 to 10. The top percentage blue-chip gainers were Pfizer, Procter & Gamble (PG), Verizon (VZ) and Merck (MRK).

Pfizer posted fourth-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share on revenue of $15.1 billion, surpassing the average analyst estimate of 44 cents a share on revenue of $14.4 billion, as emerging market sales strengthened. Shares added 3.1%.

Decliners included Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Cisco (CSCO) and Disney (DIS).

The S&P 500 was up 8 points, or 0.5%, to 1,508. The Nasdaq lost less than a point to 3,153.66, but pared earlier losses. Apple shares gained 1.9% as the tech giant announced a fourth-generation iPad with 128 gigabytes of storage and a so-called retina display.

Most sectors in the broad market traded higher, led by energy, health care, consumer non-cyclicals and basic materials. The only sector that traded lower was consumer cyclicals.

Volumes totaled 3.93 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 2.04 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers edged decliners by a ratio of 1.4-to-1 on the Big Board and 1.2-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities, said stocks have performed much better than many investors had expected. That said, he noted that last January was also a good month, and the market fizzled after the first quarter.

"The big question for us going forward as we start to exit fourth-quarter earnings, which have been OK, not spectacular, is when the focus of investors return to the U.S. economy, the housing market, the unemployment numbers, our dysfunctional politicians, the eurozone, the geopolitical problems ... without the benefit of the fourth-quarter earnings and considering the move that we've had in the market where everything is pretty much priced to perfection, it doesn't leave a lot of room for disappointment," he said.

The Conference Board on Tuesday said that its consumer confidence index fell to 58.6 in January, erasing all of the gains made through 2012 and the weakest read since November 2011, from an upwardly revised 66.7 in December. Economists, on average, were expecting 64.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a press release that consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situations.

"The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers' spirits and it may take a while for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover from their initial paycheck shock," she said.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday showed an as-expected year-over-year gain of 5.5% for November after rising by a downwardly revised 4.2% the preceding month.

The first two-day Federal Reserve meeting of the year kicked off Tuesday.

Michael Hanson, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America, said in a note that he expects the Fed's commitment to maintain sufficient policy accommodation to stay unchanged at this week's meeting. Though housing and employment data have improved since the last meeting, it has arguably not improved enough to change the Fed's views on the moderate pace of economic growth, he explained.

"In particular, the unemployment rate has remained basically flat for the past four months," Hanson said.

The economist also noted that inflation rates have decelerated. He expects the Fed to continue to see significant downside risks around the world.

Gold for February delivery advanced $7.90 to settle at $1,660.80 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures rose $1.13 cents at $97.57 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury dropped 12/32 to raise the yield to 2.003%. The dollar was down by 0.29%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Yahoo! reported a fourth-quarter revenue increase of 4% from a year earlier and adjusted profit exceeded analysts' expectations.

However, analysts were wary about the company's display revenue. GAAP display revenue fell 3% to $591 million during the fourth quarter and display revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs declined by 5% in the quarter to $520 million. The number of ads sold on core Yahoo! properties decreased about 10%.

Shares slid 3%.

Ford posted fourth-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share on revenue of $36.5 billion amid strength in its North American operations, beating the average analyst's estimate of earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $32.96 billion.

Still, the automaker's outlook on Europe was gloomy. The company said the business environment in Europe remains uncertain and predicted 2013 results for Ford Europe to be at a loss of about $2 billion, compared to prior guidance of a loss about equal to 2012.

Shares lost 4.6%.

Amazon.com (AMZN) is expected by analysts Tuesday to post fourth-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share on revenue of $22.26 billion. Shares were off 5.7%.

Seagate easily exceeded Wall Street's fiscal second-quarter estimates but issued revenue guidance that was below its prior guidance and analysts' views. Shares tumbled 9.4%.

VMware (VMW) topped analysts' fourth-quarter revenue and earnings estimates but issued weaker-than-expected guidance. Shares plunged 22%.

J.C. Penney (JCP) shares popped 9.3% as The Associated Press reported that the struggling department store chain is beginning to roll out discounts again.

Plum Creek Timber (PCL) shares added 3.8% after the private timberland owner blew past fourth-quarter earnings and revenue estimates as the housing recovery continues.

Eli Lilly (LLY - Get Report) shares tacked on 3.2% after the drug giant booked better-than-expected quarterly results and hiked its 2013 earnings guidance. The company's board authorized a new $1.5 billion share-repurchase program.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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