Updated from 9:41 a.m. EDT
Stocks on Wall Street opened with modest losses Wednesday but were recently bobbing near the flat line, as traders combed through a bevy of corporate earnings and awaited an expected cut in the
key target interest rate.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 56 points to 9121, and the
was edging up 1.5 points to 942. The
was gaining 5.2 points to 1654.
On Tuesday, stocks posted major gains into the close. The Dow rose 11%, as did the
jumped 9.5%. A large part of the upswing took place during the final hour of trading.
During the new session, investors will be eyeing the Fed's next move regarding interest rates. Policymakers began a two-day meeting Tuesday, and around 2:15 p.m. EDT the market will know definitively if rates have been reduced again. Observers widely expect the central bank to cut the fed funds target rate 50 basis points to 1% to provide additional liquidity to dysfunctional lending markets.
Corporate earnings were also occupying investors' attention. Electronics manufacturer
reported a 72% decline in its quarterly profit due in part to recent sharp appreciation of the yen.
In the telecommunications space, cable company
reported rising net income on revenue that fell just short of estimates. Telecom services firm
posted declining revenue and earnings and said it would cut 1,200 jobs during the fourth quarter.
Oil refiner and gas station operator
posted higher quarterly earnings.
Meanwhile, glass-panel manufacturer
reported revenue that was below expectations and reduced its fourth-quarter sales guidance.
, which makes navigational devices, fell short on its quarterly profit and warned that full-year results will also miss forecasts.
As for consumer staples,
bested analysts' profit estimates, and packaged-food firm
said its income rose year over year on a one-time gain from its disposal of the Post cereal business.
The government's Troubled Asset Relief Program remained in focus, as
The Wall Street Journal
, a finance company jointly owned by
, is applying for status as a bank holding company to access the Treasury Department's $700 billion capital-injection plan for banks.
For its part, GM announced Wednesday that it sold 2.1 million vehicles in the third quarter, down 11% from a year ago.
also reported that cell-phone maker
is working to cut back its phone division and refocus on using
Android software for its devices.
In analyst actions, consumer-goods firm
Johnson & Johnson
caught a JPMorgan downgrade to neutral from overweight.
Moving to economic data, the Census Bureau's read on September durable-goods orders showed a surprise 0.8% uptick, up from a 5.5% decline in August and better than the 1% drop expected by economists. Excluding transportation, new orders dropped 1.1%, and taking out defense, they edged down 0.6%. A bit later, the Energy Information Administration is expected to roll out its weekly crude-oil inventory numbers.
Ahead of the inventories report, crude oil was rising $4.18 to $66.91 a barrel. Gold was gaining $18.40 to $758.90 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were appreciating. The 10-year was climbing 8/32 to yield 3.8%, and the 30-year was up 17/32, yielding 4.16%. The dollar was falling vs. its major foreign competitors.
Overseas, European exchanges were mixed, as the FTSE in London moved higher but the DAX in Frankfurt took losses. As for the
, Japan's Nikkei closed sharply higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng logged a modest gain.