Wall Street Treads Water - TheStreet

Wall Street Treads Water

The Nasdaq moves modestly higher. Overseas markets rise.
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Updated from 4:17 p.m. EDT

Stocks in the U.S. closed little changed again Tuesday as traders waited for the pending onslaught of earnings reports to provide word on what the future holds for corporate America.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 4.71 points, or 0.04%, at 12,573.85, and the

S&P 500

was higher by 3.78 points, or 0.26%, at 1448.39. The

Nasdaq

was the best performer, up 8.43 points, or 0.34%, to 2477.61.

About 2.35 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers beating decliners by a 5-to-3 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached 1.84 billion shares, with winners outpacing losers 9 to 7.

For several weeks, the market has drifted sideways, with only occasional days of significant moves up or down. Now that quarterly earnings are arriving, traders will be looking for direction from the hundreds of reports and outlooks that will be issued during the next month.

On Monday, the New York market struggled to gather momentum and ended flat. The Dow tacked on just 8.94 points, or 0.07%, at 12,569.14, and the S&P was up 0.85 point, or 0.06%, at 1444.61. The Nasdaq's six-day winning streak came to an end, as the index slipped 2.16 points, or 0.09%, to 2469.18.

"The market is obviously bracing itself for the start of earnings season," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist with Avalon Partners. "We're looking at a cautious market that won't respond to earnings, but instead guidance. The real negative for the market will be guidance going forward."

However, Al Goldman, chief market strategist with A.G. Edwards, feels that expectations of disappointing guidance for the remainder of 2007 may be overdone.

"Overall, the economy is still expanding, and corporate earnings could be OK," said Goldman. "The fear level may be too high for expectations of guidance. We're not going to have a quarter of double-digit growth again, but we'll be up moderately."

After the close, aluminum concern

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings, marking what is largely viewed as the unofficial kickoff to the profit season. Alcoa posted an adjusted profit of 79 cents a share, excluding charges related to the company's restructuring, which beat estimates by 3 cents.

Alcoa ended the day higher by 3 cents, or 0.1%, at $34.90.

Later this week, reports are due from

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

,

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

and

Genentech

(DNA)

, among others.

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, like Alcoa a member of the Dow, was itself making headlines as a report in

The New York Times

said the financial services giant was set to cut or reassign as many as 26,000 jobs. The stock ended higher by 82 cents, or 1.6%, to $52.40.

Mylan Laboratories

(MYL) - Get Report

finished up after the company raised its fiscal 2007 guidance to a range of $1.60 to $1.63 a share, well above Wall Street estimates. Mylan added 60 cents, or 2.8%, to $21.80.

On the other hand, homebuilder

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

eased after the company said fiscal second-quarter new-home orders fell 37% from a year ago, likely due to increased price competition. Horton was off 34 cents, or 1.5%, to close at $21.70.

Among analyst moves, UBS upgraded

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

to buy from neutral, citing limited downside for the semiconductor company. Also, Goldman Sachs raised its rating for

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

to buy from neutral, citing valuation.

AMD slipped 8 cents, or 0.6%, at $13.27. Shares of Oracle climbed 28 cents, or 1.5%, to finish at $18.85.

Elsewhere, Prudential raised the stock price targets for many names in the oil and gas sector, including

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

,

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

,

Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Report

,

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

and

Valero

(VLO) - Get Report

.

Commodities ended with gains. May crude, which sank 4% during the prior session, added 38 cents to $61.89 a barrel. Gold futures rose $4.60 to close at $681.50 an ounce.

Treasuries also climbed. The 10-year note was up 6/32 in price, yielding 4.72%, and the 30-year bond rose 7/32, yielding 4.90%. The dollar weakened against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Overseas, stocks were for the most part stronger in Asia and Europe. However, Tokyo's Nikkei eased 0.5% to 17,665. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7% to 20,348. London's FTSE 100 added 0.3% to 6418, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX ended up 0.9% at 7167.