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Stocks Close Flat; Market Digests Earnings

Stocks traded along the flatline Wednesday amid a spate of strong earnings reports and lingering macroeconomic concerns.



) -- Stocks finished mixed Wednesday after straying around the flat line for much of the day, as investors weighed promising earnings reports against lingering macroeconomic concerns.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

improved 8 points, or 0.1%, at 11,125. The

S&P 500

lost 1 point, or 0.1%, at 1206, while the


went ahead by 4 points, or 0.2%, at 2505.

Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said the market is reacting to a combination of earnings and lingering concerns.

"The corporate earnings season has been terrific.

Apple's earnings

last night were really jaw-dropping and

Morgan Stanley's

report was pretty strong. Overall, I'd go so far as to say that earnings have been better than expected," Orlando said. "On the flip side, the negative side, there are residual concerns about

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Goldman Sachs

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and ongoing concerns about what's happening with Greece. These elements are all coming together."

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5% while Japan's Nikkei gained 1.7%. The FTSE in London lost 1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.5%.

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The Economy

The Energy Information Administration reported a build of 1.9 million barrels to crude oil inventories in the week ended April 16, which was larger than the 300,000-barrel increase that analysts polled by Platts had been expecting. It also went against the surprise decline of 741,000 barrels reported by the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday.

The EIA said gasoline stockpiles gained 3.6 million barrels, which surpassed estimates for a build of 100,000 barrels distillates supplies were rose by 2.1 million barrels, while analysts had only expected an additional 840,000 barrels.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said earlier that mortgage-application loan volumes rose by a seasonally adjusted 13.6% last week. Refinancing applications grew 15.8% week over week and purchase activity increased 10.1%.

The Senate Agricultural Committee voted in favor of legislation that would curb the abilities of derivatives trading desks at major Wall Street firms and provide greater transparency on the products,

The Associated Press

reported. The panel's 13-8 vote in favor of the measure also garnered lone Republican support from Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa).


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Company News

After the closing bell,


(SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report

beat second-quarter top and bottom-line forecasts on improving same store sales, while also guiding higher for the year.

In late afternoon tech earnings news,


(QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report

said it

swung to a profit on improving revenue, while


(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

said it earned a slightly better-than-expected 42 cents a share. But each company offered underwhelming outlooks, which was driving a sell-off in shares for both in extended-hours trading.


(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report


United Technologies

(UTX) - Get n.a. Report

topped the Dow after both companies reported strong first-quarter earnings. Their shares traded 3.9% and 3.7% higher, respectively.


(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

was one of the Dow's biggest laggards after


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Bank of America

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(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

despite news that AT&T added 1.9 million new wireless subscribers in the first quarter.

Morgan Stanley

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shares gained 4% after reporting first-quarter earnings that topped estimates.


(MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report

posted a first-quarter profit of $1 a share, which included a currency benefit of 5 cents a share. Analysts had been looking for earnings of 96 cents a share.

Shares of

Wells Fargo

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lost 2% after the company reported first-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share and revenue that rose 2% to $21.4 billion.

Shares of

AirTran Holdings


fell 8.5% after the company reported an adjusted quarterly loss that was a penny narrower than Wall Street had been expecting.

Stronger copper prices helped

Freeport McMoRan

(FCX) - Get Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Report

top Wall Street estimates with first-quarter earnings of $2 a share. Its stock, however, lost 3% to close at $78.41.

Altria Group

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expects the business climate to remain challenging but reaffirmed its full-year guidance for earnings of $1.85 to $1.89 a share. The company reported an adjusted quarterly profit of 42 cents a share, which was better than the profit of 39 cents a share that analysts had been projecting.

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Lockheed Martin Corporation Report

said earnings fell 18% but still beat expectations. The stock improved $1.28, or 1.5%, to $86.25.


(V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report

announced plans to buy online securities provider



for roughly $2 billion.



(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report




reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings after the close of trading on Tuesday. Apple shares surged 6% while Yahoo! shares shed 5.1%.

General Motors

CEO Ed Whitacre said the car manufacturer has paid back its over $8 billion in loans provided by governments in North America.

Goldman Sachs

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CEO Lloyd Blankfein will face the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations next Tuesday,

The Associated Press

reported, where he is likely to answer questions concerning the

Securities and Exchange Commission's

fraud charges against the firm.

Bruce Karatz, the former CEO of homebuilder

KB Home

(KBH) - Get KB Home Report

, was found guilty on a handful of felony charges related to a stock backdating scandal.

The International Air Transport Association said the

airline industry lost more than $1.7 billion on account of the volcano disruptions.

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said it will buy online business directory company Jigsaw. Its stock added 60 cents, or 0.7%, to close at $85.08.


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Commodities and the Dollar

Following the government's inventory report, the June delivery crude

oil contract finished 17 cents lower, settling at $83.68 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the June gold contract added $9.60 to settle at $1,148.80 an ounce.

The dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, with the

dollar index up by 0.2%.


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The benchmark 10-year Treasury strengthened 13/32, diluting the yield to 3.747%.

The two-year note held improve 1/32, weakening the yield at 1.004%. The 30-year bond rose 28/32, dropping the yield to 4.618%.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York



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