IBM tugs Dow lower; S&P 500 up after rough week

Stock indexes mixed in midday trading; IBM pulls Dow Jones industrial average down

Associated Press
Stocks recover slightly, ending tough week
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Penguins from SeaWorld are escorted by their handlers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the company's IPO, Friday, April 19, 2013, in New York. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 index opened higher early Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A rare earnings miss for IBM tugged the Dow Jones industrial average lower on Friday, while the rest of the market headed toward slight gains after a turbulent week.

Quarterly earnings for the country's largest provider of computer services fell short of forecasts for the first time since 2005. IBM said delays in closing several large software and mainframe computer deals hindered sales.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern time, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 34 points to 14,503, a slip of 0.2 percent. IBM, which posted results late Thursday, led the average lower, falling eight percent to $191.08.

Traders, like everyone else, were following the news out of Boston, where police were hunting for one of two brothers suspected in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. One brother was killed in a gun battle with police overnight. But the news had no impact on markets, traders said.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose eight points to 1,550, up 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite index gained 30 points to 3,197, up almost 1 percent.

For the week, both the S&P 500 and the Dow have lost more than 2 percent.

"Compared to the rest of the week, it looks like we're going to slide into the weekend on a quiet note," said Jim Baird, Partner and Chief Investment Officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors

By many measures, the financial markets have endured a turbulent five days. News that economic growth had slowed in China set off a plunge in commodity prices on Monday, leading the stock market to its worst day of the year. Gold dropped below $1,400 an ounce for the first time in two years.

The stock market bounced back the next day, then fell again on Wednesday, the third worst day for the stock market this year.

In other Friday trading, Microsoft gained 3 percent to $29.77, countering IBM's weight on the Dow. The software giant reported earnings late Thursday that beat analysts' estimates and showed solid results from its Office, software tools and Xbox divisions.

Google's stock rose 3 percent to $787.98 after its quarterly profit beat Wall Street's estimates. The leader in Internet search boosted prices for ads distributed to smartphones and tablet computers.

Most big corporations have managed to beat analysts' low expectations for first-quarter profits. Of the 104 companies that turned in results through Friday morning, 70 have trumped forecasts, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Analysts estimate that earnings for companies in the S&P 500 inched up just 2 percent over the previous year, a slowdown from the 7.7 percent rise in the fourth quarter of 2012.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, Treasury prices slipped, nudging yields up from their lowest levels of the year. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 1.70 percent from 1.68 percent late Thursday.

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