Updated from 4:05 p.m. EDTStocks ended mixed Tuesday, as a better-than-expected consumer confidence report and a sales warning from Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) competed for investors' attention. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 37 points, or 0.4%, at 9110, while the Nasdaq fell 5 points, or 0.3%, to 1605. The S&P 500 gained 2 points, or 0.2%, to 983. The major stock averages were range-bound for most of the session, with investors refusing to make large bets ahead of the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates Wednesday. Volume on the Big Board reached 1.3 billion, with advancers beating decliners by 17 to 15. On the Nasdaq, 1.6 billion shares changed hands, with winners beating losers by 16 to 15. "The market is acting pretty well," said Tony Cecin, head of equity trading at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. "I'd be happy to see the market go sideways for the rest of the summer." Cecin said investors were "comfortable" with the economic data Tuesday, but he said "everyone's waiting to see whether it's going to be 25 or 50 tomorrow." Although some pundits are calling for an aggressive 50-basis-point cut on Wednesday, most analysts are still expecting a more modest quarter-point ease. "A quarter-point cut in the fed funds rate to 1.00% remains the most appropriate and likely outcome," said Ashraf Laidi, chief currency analyst at MG Financial Group. "Receding geopolitical tensions, stabilizing commodity prices, re-emerging consumer confidence and rallying equity markets appear to reduce the case for the aggressive easing alternative." In the Treasury market, the 10-year note was higher, with its yield slipping to 3.25%. "This explosive bond rally has gone too far, too fast, in our opinion," said Donald Straszheim, president of Straszheim Global Advisors. "At these rates, when investor sentiment turns against bonds, there will be a stampede for the door, and many investors will get trampled." The Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence hit 83.5 in June, down slightly from a revised reading of 83.6 in May but better than the 82 level that economists had called for. Separately, retail chain store sales rose 0.6% in the week ending June 21 -- the biggest gain in seven weeks, according to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi/UBS Index. Financial stocks were generally higher after Prudential Securities upgraded Merrill Lynch ( MER) and Morgan Stanley ( MWD) to buy from hold, citing growing activity by retail investors, as well as the recent decline in the shares' prices. Merrill was up 2% at $46.64 and Morgan was up 1% at $43.30. Chip stocks were lower, however, after Advanced Micro Devices lowered its sales guidance, citing weaker sales of personal computers and handsets in Asia as a result of the SARS epidemic. AMD was down 4%, or 28 cents, at $6.31. Meanwhile, Cisco ( CSCO) was downgraded by SoundView. The research house sees limited upside in the shares in the absence of any compelling second-quarter growth catalysts. The shares were off 53 cents, or 3%, at $16.75.
Two other companies involved in network hardware also saw analyst action. Ciena ( CIEN) was upgraded to neutral from underweight at J.P. Morgan, while Juniper ( JNPR) was downgraded to underperform from market perform at Wachovia. Ciena was up 2%, or 12 cents, at $5.06, while Juniper was down 4%, or 53 cents, at $12.00. J.P. Morgan claimed there was an emerging likelihood of revenue growth at Ciena over the next two to four quarters. As for Juniper, Wachovia said discussions with resellers indicate spending in China and Europe slowed in the second quarter. In a yet another chapter of the PeopleSoft ( PSFT) and Oracle ( ORCL) saga, attorneys general from several states are considering legal action to block Oracle's bid on possible antitrust violations, The Wall Street Journal reported. FedEx ( FDX) beat analysts' estimates in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, which rose to 92 cents a share from 78 cents a share a year earlier. Shares were down 2%, or $1.52, at $60.47. Elsewhere, Merrill Lynch upgraded computer maker Apple ( AAPL) to neutral from sell on expectations that the launch of the G5 PowerMac will lead to a replacement cycle in the industry and better results for the company. Apple was down 1.4%, or 27 cents, at $18.78. Corning ( GLW) was down 2%, or 17 cents, at $7.13 despite reaffirming its second-quarter outlook. The company said restructuring efforts would return it to profitability this year. Kroger ( KR) was up 6%, or 93 cents, at $16.83 after beating first-quarter profit estimates and reaffirming its 2003 outlook. BellSouth ( BLS), the third-largest local-telephone company in the U.S., said it raised its quarterly dividend by 9.5% to 23 cents. Shareholders who own the stock as of July 10 will be eligible for the second-quarter dividend Aug. 1. BellSouth was up 1.7%, or 47 cents, at $27.49. Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 down 0.6% at 4060 and Germany's Xetra DAX up 1% at 3217. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed down 2.3% at 8919, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1% to 9629. Crude oil futures were down 31 cents a barrel at $28.86 in New York, while the dollar was higher against the yen and the euro.