Stocks down slightly in midday trading

US stocks indexes hover a day after setting new records; banks rise, UPS and Boeing sink

Associated Press
Stocks inch higher, setting new records
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Trader Edward Curran, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 10, 2013. World stock markets eked out moderate gains Friday, July 12, 2013 building on a rally sparked by the Fed's vow to continue supporting the U.S. economy, as investors awaited the latest growth figures from China. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The stock market rally that led to record highs this week stalled on Friday as investors wait to see where corporate profits are headed.

Major U.S. indexes were down slightly at midday Friday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index set new all-time highs.

Earnings news was mixed. Profits at big banks Wells Fargo and JP Morgan came in better than expected, and that helped bank stocks. But UPS cut its profit outlook and said it's seeing a slowdown in U.S. industry.

Also, a University of Michigan measure of consumer sentiment came in lower than expected for this month.

Investors will get a lot more information next week, when key reports on inflation, unemployment and retail sales are due. That's also when earnings season begins in earnest. Reports are due from the remaining big banks, as well as General Electric, Intel, and Microsoft, Microsoft, among other bellwethers.

"This is the jump ball, this is the Lebron James of the market," said David Darst, chief investment strategist for Morgan Stanley Individual Investor Group, referring to the second-quarter earnings rush. "It's going to determine where the market goes."

The Dow was down 33 points, or 0.2 percent, at 15,427 as of 12:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Dow was pulled lower by a sharp drop in Boeing on news that a fire had broken out in one of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft at London's Heathrow Airport.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down a point at 1,674. Both indexes closed at all-time highs on Thursday.

The Nasdaq composite edged up a point to 3,579.

United Parcel Service sank $5.38, or 5.9 percent, to $86.06 after saying its second-quarter and full-year earnings will be less than analysts have been expecting because the company's customers are using cheaper shipping options. UPS also said it's seeing a slowdown in U.S. industry.

FedEx fell, too. Its shares were down $2.45, or 2.3 percent, to $101.90.

Cost-cutting boosted profits at Wells Fargo, and its stock rose 69 cents, or 1.6 percent, $42.58. JPMorgan Chase reported a 32 percent jump in profits. Its stock rose 30 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $55.44.

Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for BNY ConvergEx Group, said JPMorgan's credit numbers were strong. "That means the consumer's out there spending and borrowing and propping up the whole economy, and that's a good thing," he said.

Conroy thinks it's likely that stocks will move higher, as long as second-quarter earnings reports at least match the low expectations that investors have. "The three most important things in the next couple of weeks are earnings, earnings, and earnings," he said.

Other stocks with notable moves included:

— Boeing dropped after a fire was reported on a parked plane at Heathrow Airport. Boeing struggled earlier this year after its new 787 was grounded for months because of smoldering batteries, and investors are nervous about any indication that that problem might return. Boeing had been up before the fire was reported. The stock dropped $5.85, or 5.5 percent, to $101.03. Earlier in the day Boeing, which is part of the Dow, set a 52-week high of $108.15.

— Gap rose 37 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $45.13. Three analysts lifted their price targets after Gap posted revenue at stores open at least a year that was better than the market was expecting.

— WebMD jumped $6.83, or 25 percent, to $33.79 after the medical website operator sharply raised its forecast for its second-quarter results, citing strong demand from advertisers.

— RadioShack Corp. rose a dime, or 3.6 percent, to $2.73. Investors were spooked late Thursday after a report that it had hired financial advisers. But they appeared to be reassured after the struggling electronics retailer said it has a strong balance sheet and that the "sole focus" of its discussions with advisers is making its balance sheet stronger.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose slightly to 2.60 percent from 2.57 percent.

The price of crude oil rose 72 cents to $105.63 per barrel in the U.S. Other energy prices also rose. Gold slipped $1.80 cents to $1,278.

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