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.

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