Updated from 4:19 p.m. EDT
Stocks never strayed far from the unchanged mark Wednesday and ended the session little moved from where they went out last time.
After zigzagging between positive and negative territory, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed down 16.74 points, or 0.13%, at 13,291.65. The
tacked on 0.07 point to 1471.56, while the
lost 5.40 points, or 0.21%, at 2592.07.
Some of the most interesting developments of the day actually took place away from the stock market. Crude prices set an intraday record in New York, crossing the $80-a-barrel level for the first time ever. The October contract finished at $79.91, up $1.68, and established an all-time high for the second time in as many days.
Bullish weekly inventory data from the Energy Department was behind the move. The report said that crude stocks dropped a greater-than-expected 7.1 million barrels last week. Gasoline stocks declined 700,000 barrels, whereas distillates increased by 1.8 million barrels.
Elsewhere, the dollar struck its worst point ever against the euro, dropping to $1.3903 from $1.3833 previously. The greenback also eased against the yen.
With no economic data on the calendar, Treasury securities were lower. The 10-year bond was down 8/32 in price, pushing the yield 4.40%. The 30-year note was off 16/32, yielding 4.68%.
Phillip Roth, chief technical market analyst with Miller Tabak, said that "every rally we've had since the August lows had a dead day afterwards with no follow through, and today is a continuation of that pattern.
"The market has been in a struggling advance, however temporary it may be in the recent downtrend," he continued. "There's still a so-called carrot out there leading the market, with a bullish incentive that the expected Fed rate cut is on the way."
Breadth turned negative compared with the previous session. On the
New York Stock Exchange
2.94 billion shares changed hands, as decliners topped advancers by a 9-to-7 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached 1.91 billion shares, with losers outpacing winners nearly 3 to 2.
On Tuesday, stocks rallied, thanks to good news out of
The Dow rose 180.54 points, or 1.38%, to close at 13,308.39. The S&P 500 finished up 19.79 points, or 1.36%, at 1471.49. The Nasdaq was higher by 38.36 points, or 1.5%, at 2597.47.
Among individual stocks,
offered its midquarter report following the prior close and tightened its third-quarter financial targets, although the forecast was still near Wall Street's estimates. TI closed down 60 cents, or 1.7%, to $35.12.
Meanwhile, subprime and credit fears began to churn again, this time at
, which said it will eliminate roughly 575 jobs from its Option One Mortgage subprime lending unit. Block is trying to sell the division. Shares eased by 17 cents, or 0.9%, to $19.64.
The recent mortgage crisis was the subject of comments from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who met with the heads of several lenders, including
Paulson noted that the credit and subprime lending mess "will take some time to work its way out," but that the U.S. economy remains strong.
lost ground after guiding lower for the third quarter. The company cited continued softness in the sheet markets and the increasing costs of some raw materials. Nucor was down 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $53.46.
As for analysts' actions, UBS upgraded
to neutral from sell after a Food and Drug Administration panel rejected a proposal that would limit the use of anemia drugs. Amgen was higher by $1.76, or 3.3%, to close at $55.64.
UBS raised its stock price target for
to $182 from $175. Shares finished up $1.36, or 1%, to $136.85.
Overseas markets were mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 eased 0.5% overnight after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, on the other hand, jumped 1.5%.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's Xetra Dax, and the CAC 40 in Paris tacked on 0.2% or more.