Stocks Race to Positive Finish


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages staged a late rally to secure a positive finish Monday, starting the new week with a bounce after another round of mixed quarterly results.

After taking a beating in the previous two sessions in the wake of poor earnings reports from heavyweights like Google ( GOOG) and Microsoft ( MSFT), the technology sector was a standout, rising nearly 1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added more than 2 points, or 0.02%, to close at 13,346, snapping a two-day losing streak. The blue-chip index, which ran as low as 13,235 earlier in the day, is now up 9.2% so far in 2012.

Breadth was still negative within the Dow with losers outpacing winners, 18 to 12. The biggest percentage decliners were General Electric ( GE), Microsoft ( MSFT), and Verizon ( VZ).

Blue-chip gainers included Caterpillar ( CAT), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and UnitedHealth ( UNH).

Shares of Caterpillar finished up 1.5% after the heavy equipment maker topped Wall Street's expectations for its third-quarter earnings but trimmed its full-year outlook to a profit of $9 to $9.25 a share on sales of roughly $66 billion. The company's prior view was for earnings of $9.60 a share on sales of $68 billion to $70 billion.

"We've seen continued economic weakening and uncertainty," said Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar's CEO, in a statement. "It's definitely impacting our business with dealers intending to lower inventories and mining customers delaying some projects and reducing orders."

The S&P 500 rose less than one point, or 0.04%, to settle at 1433.81, while the Nasdaq gained nearly 11 points, or 0.38%, to close at 3017.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were conglomerates, energy and utilities. Aside from transportation, basic materials, financials and consumer non-cyclicals finished in the green.

Breadth was just about even on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Volume totaled 3.20 billion on the Big Board and 1.65 billion on the Nasdaq.

"To date, 34% of the S&P 500 has reported by market cap, and 3Q earnings can best bedescribed as broadly disappointing," wrote UBS in commentary released before Monday's open. "Excluding Financials, companies have surprised by 40 bps basis points on the bottom-line, by far the worst results in this recovery cycle. Top-line trends have been even more concerning. Only one-third of companies are beating revenue forecasts, with the average company missing year-over-year sales projections by 70 bps."

According to data from Thomson Reuters, 25% of the S&P 500 had reported their quarterly results through Friday with 60.2% of those companies beating the consensus profit view and just 39% coming in ahead of revenue expectations. Those percentages compare to averages of 67% and 55% over the past four quarters.

Among the companies under selling pressure in the wake of their quarterly results on Monday were Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX), V.F. Corp. ( VFC), and Advance Auto Parts ( AAP).

The FTSE 100 in London finished down 0.22% and the DAX in Germany closed down 0.71% Monday as the European markets balanced worries about corporate earnings releases with hopes of a bailout request from Spain.

The Nikkei Average in Tokyo settled up 0.09% after worse-than-expected trade data sparked speculation about more monetary easing. Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished up 0.68%.

Monday's U.S. economic calendar was empty.

December crude oil futures settled down $1.79 at $88.65 a barrel. December gold futures settled up $3.10 at $1,727.10 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 12/32, raising the yield to 1.813%. The dollar slipped 0.07%, according to the dollar index.

In other corporate news, shares of Cascade ( CASC) surged 18% after the company agreed to be bought by Toyota Industries for $65 a share in cash, representing a 23% premium over Cascade's average share price for the 60 days ending Oct. 19.

BP ( BP), the U.K. oil company, confirmed it's in advanced talks about selling its stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft, Russia's state-controlled oil company, in a deal of about $30 billion. ADRs slid 1%.

Ancestry.com ( ACOM), the genealogy Web site operator, agreed to be acquired by an investor group led by European private-equity firm Permira for about $1.6 billion, or $32 a share. The stock jumped 7.8%.

UBS ( UBS) shares added 2.6% following reports that the Swiss bank may reduce its headcount by 3,000 to 5,000 employees as part of its cost-cutting efforts.


--Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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