Stocks Close Little Changed

GE's lukewarm earnings don't inspire much buying.
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Updated from 4:07 p.m. EDT

Stocks closed mixed Friday in a generally quiet and range-bound session, as investors digested a cautious profit outlook from

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

and upgrades on some key technology stocks.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

closed down 5 points to 9675, while the

Nasdaq

finished up 3 points to 1915. The

S&P 500

was almost flat at 1038.

For the week, the Dow rose 102 points, or 1%, while the S&P was up 8 points, or 0.8%. The Nasdaq gained 35 points, or 1.8%. Volume was light Friday, with just 1.1 billion shares changing hands on the

Big Board

and 1.4 billion traded on the Nasdaq. Winners beat losers by 17 to 14 on the NYSE but breadth was negative on the Nasdaq, with decliners outpacing advancers by 17 to 14.

"We expected some late-day profit-taking," said Dave Briggs, head trader at Federated Investors. The major stock averages hit 15-month highs on Thursday, and some traders said the market was due for a correction. "I think you've just got some people squaring positions heading into the long weekend."

The bond market will be closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday, but the stock market will remain open.

One of the big losers in the market Friday was General Electric, which fell 2.7%, or 81 cents, to $29.32 after posting its fourth-straight quarter of lower earnings, thanks primarily to continued weakness in its power turbine division.

The company earned $3.65 billion, or 36 cents a share, on revenue of $33.39 billion in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $4.09 billion, or 41 cents a share, on revenue of $32.72 billion in the year-ago quarter. The latest period had a $372 million accounting charge, before which GE earned $4.02 billion, or 40 cents a share. That matched the analyst consensus.

For the fourth quarter, GE expects to earn 45 cents to 47 cents a share, compared with a consensus estimate of 47 cents. GE also announced a deal to acquire British medical-diagnostics and drug company Amersham for $9.5 billion.

"GE didn't have good news for us and that's a large part of the S&P 500 and is also in the Dow," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies.

Still, Hogan said a couple of analyst upgrades in the technology sector helped to put a floor under the market.

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

was added to Merrill Lynch's Focus One list while

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

were upgraded at Deutsche Bank.

Airline stocks were generally lower after UBS downgraded

America West

(AWA)

,

JetBlue

(JBLU) - Get Report

and

AirTran

(AAI)

. But retail stocks advanced thanks to some analyst upgrades, and oil stocks rose as energy prices continued to climb.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

was in focus after the switch maker said it is optimistic about reducing the market-share shrinkage it's been facing in Asia because of lower prices from local competitors. Shares fell 1%, or 14 cents, at $20.79.

Cisco competitor

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

posted a profit late Thursday, swinging from a loss in the year-ago period and beating Wall Street projections. But Juniper fell 4%, or 76 cents, to $17.62.

In other earnings news, handheld-computer maker

Handspring

(HAND)

said it was able to reduce its quarterly loss with the help of cost-cutting.

Another active stock was drugmaker

Immune Response

(IMNR)

. The company said on Thursday that it licensed a substance from

Hybridon

(HYBN.OB)

to make enhancements to an experimental HIV vaccine. Immune Response was up 11%, or 18 cents, at $2.77.

La-Z-Boy

(LZB) - Get Report

cut its fiscal second-quarter earnings outlook to 26 to 29 cents a share, including a 3-cent restructuring charge. That's far below analysts' estimates of 41 cents. Shares fell 13%, or $3.07, to $19.98.

Separately, the

New York Stock Exchange

disclosed how much its six top executives are paid. Co-Presidents Robert Britz and Catherine Kinney have each accumulated retirement payments worth $22 million.

On the economic front, the Labor Department issued its producer price index, which rose 0.3% in September, a slower pace than the 0.4% gain the previous month. Economists had expected the number to climb 0.1%. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the so-called core PPI was flat, compared with expectations of a 0.1% rise. That followed a 0.1% rise in August.

The government also reported that the trade deficit fell in August to $39.2 billion from a revised $40 billion, while economists had seen the figure rising to $41.5 billion.

"The core PPI is now up only 0.1% in the past year. There is pipeline pressure, with raw materials excluding food and energy up 11.1% year on year, but producers lack the pricing power to pass these increases through," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, a subsidiary of First Tennessee National. "Meanwhile, a shrinking deficit is a big surprise given the strength of consumption. Trade could contribute significantly to economic growth in the third quarter, potentially lifting GDP growth over 6%."

Treasuries were higher, with the yield on the 10-year note falling to 4.27%. Crude oil prices for future delivery rose 96 cents to $31.97 a barrel in New York. The dollar was weaker vs. the yen and the euro.

Overseas markets were mostly lower, with London's FTSE 100 down fractionally at 4311 and Germany's Xetra DAX down 0.3% at 3471. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 2.4% higher at 10,786, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2% to 11,935.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 49 points, or 0.5%, to 9680, having been up over 100 points earlier. The S&P 500 gained 5 points, or 0.5%, to 1038. The Nasdaq rose 18 points, or 1%, to 1911.9.