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A Mixed Finish for Markets With No News to Tip Big Swings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With no impetus to make big moves on Tuesday, U.S. markets closed mixed. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq turned green in the final minutes of trading, the S&P 500 remained in the red, somewhat deflated from record highs set the day before.

After spending much of the day in the doldrums, the S&P 500 recovered to close a mere 0.02% lower but still higher than a record-breaking 1,950-level set on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tiptoed 0.02% higher to 16,945.92, while the Nasdaq added 0.04% to 4,338.

The S&P 500 has been ripping higher over the last month, chalking up gains of 5.5% over the year so far. While bears in early February warned that the S&P 500 had dropped below its 50-day moving average, and again on April 10, the benchmark index continues to make new highs albeit on less and less volume.

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Bearish contrarians remain on full alert, but "we've been running with the bulls, and continue to do so," Yardani Research chief investment strategist Ed Yardeni wrote in a note. "However, we see the same old reasons for doing so." The major central banks continue to pump liquidity into financial markets and, while some of that liquidity is boosting economic growth, much of it is inflating asset values. Economic growth has been "subpar" in both the U.S. and overseas during the current bull market, but earnings have been very strong.

One company not included among the better-than-expected earnings seen this season is RadioShack (RSH). The struggling electronics retailer tumbled 10.4% after reporting a net loss wider than expected and its ninth consecutive quarterly sales decline.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN - Get Report) was one of the most actively traded stocks this session, up 83.3% on trading volume of nearly 70 million shares. The biotech company soared after the FDA removed a clinical hold on one of its experimental hepatitis C treatments.

Big pharma stock Allergan (AGN) slipped 0.65% after the company rejected the latest takeover bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) and activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management, saying the offer wasn't worth discussing.

High-momentum internet names were moving higher even with little incentive. Facebook (FB) spiked 4.6%, LinkedIn  (LNKD) added 4.7% and Twitter (TWTR) popped 2.6%.

Retail name Chico's (CHS) was also higher, up 7.6%, on reports the company is exploring a potential sale to a private-equity firm. However, sources told Financial Times, discussions are in their preliminary stages.

European stocks were mixed on Tuesday, with U.K. indices losing ground as news of strong industrial output increased the chances of a near-term rate rise. Asian indices took their cue from Wall Street and closed largely in the green, though Japanese markets retreated as the yen rose.

-- By Keris Alison Lahiff and Andrea Tse in New York

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ACHN $8.80 -0.79%
RSH $0.31 12.76%
AAPL $95.03 -2.90%
FB $116.73 7.20%
GOOG $691.02 -2.10%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,830.76 -210.79 -1.17%
S&P 500 2,075.81 -19.34 -0.92%
NASDAQ 4,805.2910 -57.85 -1.19%

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