NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street had a lot going up against it on Wednesday -- another slide in crude oil prices combined with big declines from the media sector led by Time Warner TWX and Disney (DIS), the world's largest entertainment company.
But overall stocks behaved with resiliency, closing with slight gains as S&P 500 added 0.3% and the Nasdaq gained 0.7%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1% even as Disney exerted downward pressure.
Crude closed at its lowest level since March after briefly gaining ground after a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude oil inventories. Crude inventories declined by 4.4 million barrels over the week, more than double an estimated drop of 1.5 million.
Investors remain concerned over an surplus as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries continues to pump oil at record levels. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.3% to $45.15 a barrel.
Earnings on Wednesday were a mixed bag. Around 78% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings so far and while profits have generally beat estimates, revenue has fallen short of forecasts.
"The bar has been set pretty low and part of that is obviously because of the strong dollar and because of weak oil," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, in a call. "We continue to see that problem and it's likely going to impact the third quarter as well."
Disney was a drag on the Dow, falling more than 9% after missing sales estimates in its third quarter. Revenue of $13.1 billion missed expectations by $130 million. Profits were better than expected, though, climbing 11% and exceeding forecasts for the 11th consecutive quarter.
Lumber Liquidators (LL) plummeted after reporting a 10% decline in comparable-store sales in the second quarter. The company has suffered since controversial reports on the safety of its products earlier this year. Quarterly net losses of 75 cents a share missed expectations by 81 cents and total sales fell 6% to $247.9 million.
Losses in Disney and Lumber Liquidator shares were offset by gains in Priceline (PCLN), which jumped more than 5% after soaring past quarterly estimates. The online travel agency earned $12.45 a share, 47 cents above estimates. Revenue fell short, however, with sales of $1.28 billion down 40% from a year earlier and coming in $990 million shy of expectations.
First Solar (FSLR) added more than 16% and pulled fellow solar stocks SunPower (SPWR) and SunEdison (SUNE) higher after beating quarterly estimates. The company also exceeded full-year guidance forecasts.
The U.S. trade deficit increased 7.1% to $43.84 billion in June, tied to a higher volume of auto imports from Europe, according to the Commerce Department on Wednesday. Economists had expected the deficit to climb to $42.8 billion from a revised $40.9 billion in May.
Non-manufacturing activity in July grew at a faster-than-expected pace, according to the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index. A reading of 60.3 in July climbed from 56 in June and exceeded estimates of 56.2.
The private sector added 185,000 jobs in July, according to the ADP Private Jobs report. The reading was well below an expected 210,000 increase over the month. June's report was revised down to 229,000 from 8,000.
Though its track record has been spotty, the ADP report is used as a litmus test for the labor market ahead of the official monthly jobs report. The July employment situation report from the Labor Department is out this Friday and economists expect nonfarm payrolls to increase 212,000 after a 223,000 jump in June.
Investors have been on high alert for signs of weakness in economic data ahead of the next Federal Reserve meeting in September. Economists widely expect the Fed to raise rates at that meeting, which would be the Fed's first money-tightening policy action in nine years.