U.S. Stocks Bob About the Baseline

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 Federal Reserve's key target interest rate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 56 points to 9121, and the S&P 500 was edging up 1.5 points to 942. The Nasdaq was gaining 5.2 points to 1654.

On Tuesday, stocks posted major gains into the close. The Dow rose 11%, as did the S&P 500. The Nasdaq 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 Sony ( SNE) reported a 72% decline in its quarterly profit due in part to recent sharp appreciation of the yen.

In the telecommunications space, cable company Comcast ( CMCSA) reported rising net income on revenue that fell just short of estimates. Telecom services firm Qwest ( Q) posted declining revenue and earnings and said it would cut 1,200 jobs during the fourth quarter.

Oil refiner and gas station operator Hess ( HES) posted higher quarterly earnings.

Meanwhile, glass-panel manufacturer Corning ( GLW) reported revenue that was below expectations and reduced its fourth-quarter sales guidance. Garmin ( GRMN), which makes navigational devices, fell short on its quarterly profit and warned that full-year results will also miss forecasts.

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