Stocks Close Flat as Consumer Weighs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks traded in a fixed range and finished near the flat line Tuesday after investors weighed weak July consumer confidence against mixed earnings and stronger-than-expected May housing data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 12 points, or 0.1%, at 10,538. But the S&P 500 shed a point, or 0.1%, at 1114, and the Nasdaq lost 8 points, or 0.4%, at 2288.

"The news that has been coming out has been quite positive and we've had such a great run, so a little waffling back and forth right now isn't necessarily a bad thing," said David Chalupnik, head of equities at First American Funds.

"Overseas, Deutsche Bank ( DB) and UBS ( UBS) reported strong earnings, European sovereign CD spreads narrowed again and Spain just completed a high-yield debt auction, so fears about the European debt crisis appear to be fading.

"Plus, we had good earnings out of DuPont ( DD) this morning," he said. "So far, 82% of the S&P 500 companies have beat earnings expectations, and the comments we're getting from companies are largely positive, too. It's really not quite the dire situation that we seemed to have in June."

Shares of BP ( BP) lost 1.7% today after the company announced that it took a $32.2 billion non-operating charge in the second quarter, resulting in a loss of $5.42 a share. The charge included $2.9 billion for Gulf of Mexico oil spill costs to date and $29.3 billion for future costs. Additionally, BP confirmed that it would replace CEO Tony Hayward with Bob Dudley and said it plans to sell another $23 billion in assets over the next year and a half.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6%, and Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.07%. The FTSE in London was gained 0.03%, and the DAX in Frankfurt added 0.2%.

The Economy

The Case-Shiller 20-city index grew 4.6% in May from April's increase of 3.8%. The level in May was better than the 4% rise that analysts had been expecting, according to

Consumer confidence weakened further in July as the Conference Board's index fell to 50.4 from 54.3 in June. Economists had been expecting a July reading of 51.

Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in the Richmond region fell to a reading of 16 in July, down from June's level of 23.

The American Petroleum Institute released its weekly inventory report after the closing bell. Though analysts were anticipating a drawdown of 2.3 million barrels in the week ending July 23, according to a Platts poll, the industry group said supplies instead climbed up by 3.08 million barrels, according to Bloomberg.

Company News

American Express ( AXP), Cisco Systems ( CSCO), Home Depot ( HD) and Caterpillar ( CAT) weighed most heavily on the Dow, while DuPont, Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Pfizer ( PFE) put on the best performances.

General Electric ( GE) agreed to pay $23.5 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the conduct of certain non-U.S. units in relation to the United Nations Oil-For-Food program in 2002-03. The stock gained 0.3%.

American depositary shares of UBS ( UBS) shot 8.9% higher after the Swiss bank reported a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit of 2 billion Swiss francs ($1.9 billion).

Meanwhile, U.S.-listed shares of Germany's Deutsche Bank ( DB) gained 2.8% after it surpassed forecasts for second-quarter earnings of €1.05 billion with a profit of €1.2 billion ($1.55 billion). The bank said transaction banking and asset management operations helped offset weakness across its investment bank segment.

Lockheed Martin ( LMT) beat expectations with an adjusted second-quarter profit of $1.96 a share and raised its year-end guidance to between $7.15 and $7.35 a share from a previous range of $7 to $7.20 a share.

U.S. Steel ( X) disappointed investors by posting a net second-quarter loss of $25 million, which included a loss of 62 cents a share related to the euro's drop against the dollar. Excluding the loss, U.S. Steel would have earned 45 cents a share; analysts had been looking for a profit of 63 cents a share.

DuPont ( DD) said second-quarter earnings surpassed Wall Street's estimates and sales jumped 26% to $8.6 billiion.

Nasdaq OMX Group ( NDAQ) said second-quarter revenue rose 6% to $390 million, beating expectations, but earnings of 46 cents a share missed estimates by 3 cents.

Office Depot ( ODP) narrowed its loss in the second quarter and surpassed expectations with a loss of 7 cents a share, compared to the shortfall of 17 cents a share that analysts had been forecasting.

After the closing bell, freight rail company Norfolk Southern ( NSC) said it in a release it earned $1.04 a share in the second quarter, up from 66 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter, as traffic volume increased 22%. The company was projected to post a profit of 99 cents a share, according to consensus projections provided by

Commodities and the Dollar

Crude oil for September delivery settled $1.48 lower at $77.50 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the August gold contract shed $25.10, to settle at $1,158 an ounce.

The dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.1%.


The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 15/32, lifting the yield to 3.049%.

The two-year note was lower by 3/32, strengthening the yield to 0.641%. The 30-year bond was down by 1 3/32, increasing the yield to 4.081%.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York.