U.S. Markets closed

Stocks flip between gains and losses

Matthew Craft, AP Business Writer

Specialist John Parisi, right, works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Stock prices are opening mostly lower on Wall Street as weak earnings from Pfizer and other companies drag down major market averages. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Major stock indexes recovered from a morning slump Tuesday, keeping the Standard & Poor's 500 index on course to wrap up the month with a solid gain.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern, the S&P 500 was up two points at 1,596, a slight rise of 0.1 percent. The index closed at a record high the day before.

Brad Sorensen, director of market research at the brokerage Charles Schwab, said that trading would likely be quiet Tuesday except for companies reporting earnings. Later this week, investors will hear from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank and get the U.S. government's monthly job report. Investors are often reluctant to take big positions ahead of potentially market-moving events such as those.

"People are probably taking a breath today," he said. "We're waiting for some more important events to happen later in the week."

Pfizer's stock dropped 3 percent after the drug maker's results fell short of what analysts had expected, a result of currency movements and falling sales. The world's second-largest drug maker also cut its profit forecast for the rest of the year.

Pfizer lost $1.04 to $29.39, the biggest drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. The Dow gained three points to 14,822.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 17 points to 3,324, up 0.5 percent.

Pitney Bowes sank 16 percent after the maker of mailing equipment and software cut its dividend in half and posted a 58 percent drop in net income. Pitney Bowes sank $2.59 to $13.61.

Avon Products' quarterly loss wasn't as deep as analysts had expected. The direct-seller of cosmetics has been cutting staff and scaling back operations in an effort to turn around its business. Avon's stock rose 71 cents to $22.96, a gain of 3 percent.

This earnings season has been a mixed bag. More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have turned in results, and seven of 10 have beaten analysts' estimates for earnings, according to S&P Capital IQ. Nearly as many, however, have come up short on revenue: Six of 10 have missed analysts' revenue targets. That suggests companies are getting more of their profits from laying off staff and other cost-cutting efforts instead of from higher sales.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from late Monday at 1.67 percent. It reached its low for the year, 1.65 percent, early Tuesday.

In response to slower economic growth, bond traders from around the world have been buying Treasurys this month, driving yields down. The 10-year yield started April trading around 1.85 percent.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are on track to end the month with gains of 1.7 percent. It wasn't exactly a smooth ride. The two indexes reached record highs in the second week of April, then took a steep fall in the next. News that China, the world's second-largest economy, slowed unexpectedly pummeled the prices of oil, copper and other commodities. The stock market had its worst day of the year on April 15, when the S&P 500 lost 2.3 percent.