S&P 500 tacked on 3 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1358. The index had dropped in five of the preceding six sessions and scraped a two-month low of 1343 in intraday action on Wednesday. The Nasdaq lost a point at 2933.64.
Breadth within the Dow was positive with 19 of the index's 30 components finishing higher. The biggest percentage gainers among the blue chips included Chevron ( CVX), Home Depot ( HD), Pfizer ( PFE) and Travelers ( TRV). Cisco, by far, was the worst performer within the Dow, losing more than 10%,after the networking giant forecast earnings of 44 to 46 cents a share for the July-ending quarter with year-over-year revenue growth anticipated at 2% to 5%. Analysts were calling for a profit of 49 cents a share in the fourth quarter on revenue of $11.99 billion, which implied 7% growth. In the broader market, winners outpaced losers by a ratio of 1.9-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.4 to 1 on the Nasdaq. On a sector basis, technology and capital goods underperformed, while financials, conglomerates and basic materials gained. Evan Nowack, managing director at HighTower's Leventhal Group, said that traders have been enjoying the volatility that's defining the markets of late. "I think mostly this is the traders having fun," he said. "They want volatility; every day when the market goes up, goes up, goes up, there's not a lot of opportunity for these guys to play the short side, play the long side and move the market."