New Benchmark for Dow Industrials

The index hits another record high, closing above 12,000.
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Updated from 4:09 p.m. EDT

Though it didn't exactly show conviction throughout the session Thursday, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

did manage to close above 12,000 for the first time ever.

After bouncing around the break-even line for much of the day, the Dow finished ahead by 19.05 points, or 0.16%, at 12,011.73. Seventeen of the 30 industrials were positive, led by

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and

Altria

(MO) - Get Report

.

The

S&P 500

rose 1 point, or 0.07%, to 1366.96, and the

Nasdaq Composite

ended up 3.79 points, or 0.16%, at 2340.94.

"The market is looking past an economy that is still contracting," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer with Oaktree Asset Management. "However, it looks overbought now, so I'd be cautious as we'll probably see some digesting of these recent gains."

Volume was little changed from the previous day's levels, but breadth improved. About 2.67 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers outpacing decliners by a 5-to-3 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.98 billion shares, and winners beat losers 3 to 2.

On Wednesday, the Dow hit an intraday record high of 12,049.51 before pulling back to settle up 42.66 points at 11,992.68, its eighth record close in the past two weeks.

"While the longer-term trend remains up, yesterday's trading is a sharp warning," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "Yesterday began with an upside burst. The failure of that burst to carry forward was not surprising, but the tepid afternoon rally that couldn't rise above even the bounce high is worrisome."

To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here

.

Earnings continue to arrive at a furious pace, with results from both tech names and old-economy stocks arriving in force.

After the close of the prior session,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

posted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $546 million, or 62 cents a share, up 27% from the same quarter a year ago. Revenue surged to $4.84 billion from $3.68 billion last year. Results handily beat estimates, sending shares of Apple higher by $4.46, or 6%, to close at $78.99.

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

also finished higher after the Internet auctioneer posted a third-quarter profit of $280.9 million, or 20 cents a share, up 10% from a year earlier. Sales and adjusted earnings topped estimates. eBay added $2, or 7%, to $30.49.

On the other hand,

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

dropped 13.3% after posting a significant decline in margins. Third-quarter earnings came in at $134 million, or 27 cents a share, up 76% from a year ago. AMD tumbled $3.22 to $21.01.

As a new day unfolded, several Dow components rolled out their numbers.

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

said it had third-quarter earnings of $843.3 million, or 68 cents a share, meeting expectations. Revenue rose 10% to $5.8 billion. McDonald's slid by 70 cents, or 1.7%, to $40.77.

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

posted third-quarter net income of $3.36 billion, or 46 cents a share, more than doubling the year-ago results. On a continuing operations basis, the drugmaker earned 44 cents, a penny short of estimates. However, revenue of $12.28 billion in the quarter beat expectations.

After announcing it will buy back up to $10 billion in shares next year, Pfizer warned that revenue levels for the next two years would be equal to that of 2006. Shares were off 42 cents, or 1.5%, to $27.68.

Shares of

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

finished up 2.2% after the company reported third-quarter net income that exceeded the Thomson First Call forecast by 3 cents a share. Coca-Cola was higher by 95 cents to $44.91.

Meanwhile,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

was off 0.6% after posting a 23% decline in third-quarter earnings. Though earnings from continuing operations beat the Thomson First Call average estimate, third-quarter revenue missed targets. The stock lost 32 cents to close at $49.87.

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

said it had third-quarter earnings of $541 million, or 66 cents a share, up more than 16% from the same quarter last year. The company's profits and sales were ahead of estimates, but the industrial giant cautioned of lower economic growth next year. Honeywell was off $1.05, or 2.5%, to $41.58.

At

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

, sales were better than expected, but profits were a bit light, while

Ericsson's

(ERIC) - Get Report

revenue rose 12% in the latest quarter.

Outside of earnings, crude futures were higher as OPEC convened in Qatar. The oil-exporting group is expected to cut output in order to halt the recent tumble in prices. Oil gained 85 cents to close at $58.50 a barrel.

The economic docket was sparse, but in one report the Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 299,000 last week. Elsewhere, the Conference Board said the leading economic indicators for September rose 0.1%, shy of expectations for a 0.3% increase.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index for October was weaker than expected for a second month, coming in at negative 0.7 vs. the forecast of positive 6.5. The number is based on a survey and is calculated by taking the difference in the percentage of respondents who report business improving and those who see it declining.

Overseas, European indices were little changed. London's FTSE 100 added 0.1% to 6156, and Germany's Xetra DAX was off 0.1% at 6177. Stocks fell in Asia, as Japan's Nikkei finished 0.6% lower at 16,551 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3% to 17,987.

On Friday,

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

,

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

are expected to report their results.