December 23, 2014
US stocks end mixed with focus on earnings
US stocks finished flat to either side of unchanged as investors played off a mixed bag of company earnings, while the dollar firmed against most major currencies ahead of next week's Federal Reserve meeting where another cut in stimulus is seen possible.
Treasuries fell and benchmark yields edged up from five-week lows, with prices dragged down by weaker German government debt prices.
On Wall Street, IBM missed revenue expectations for a fourth straight quarter, driving down shares of the world's largest technology services company by nearly 4 percent, making them the biggest drag on the market.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 41.10 points, or 0.25 percent, at 16,373.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.06 points, or 0.06 percent, at 1,844.86. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 17.24 points, or 0.41 percent, at 4,243.00.
IBM lost 3.3 percent to $182.25, weighing on both the Dow and S&P 500. The company was hit in the latest quarter by weakening demand, particularly in growth markets like China.
An upgrade of the International Monetary Fund's world forecasts lifted sentiment in global equities.
World stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index edged up 0.07 percent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst closed up 0.1 percent at 1,347.05, leaving it just shy of a multi-year high touched on Tuesday at 1,353.47. The euro zone's blue-chip STOXX 50 shed 0.1 percent to 3,151.27 points.
The dollar slipped against sterling and the Australian dollar while rising against others, as measured against a basket of currencies.
Investors expect the Fed, when it meets next week, to make another $10 billion cut to its monthly bond-buying program after last month's reduction brought its monthly purchases of bonds to $75 billion.
The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was down 11/32, with its yield at 2.8637 percent. The 10-year yield hit 2.818 percent on Friday, its lowest level since Dec. 11, according to Reuters data.
Sterling hit a three-week high against the dollar and a one-year high against the euro.
The pound rallied after a sharper-than-expected fall in UK unemployment, to 7.1 percent, provided fresh proof of a strengthening economy and bolstered speculation that a Bank of England rate increase may not be too far off.
Among commodities, oil climbed on expectations that accelerating growth in industrialized economies would lift demand. US crude oil closed up almost 2 percent at $96.73 a barrel, its highest settlement for the year.