US stock indexes show mixed signs before Fed statement and earnings reports

July 31, 2013 6:40 am

US stocksThe US stock indexes remained mixed as S&P 500 headed for its biggest monthly gain since January, as investors analyzed corporate earnings and awaited results from the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting.

The S&P 500 gained around 0.04% to 1,685.96 at 4 p.m. in New York, after hesitating between gains and losses during the trading session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.38 points, or 0.01% to 15,520.59 today. About 5.9 billion shares changed hands, 7.7% below the three-month average.

“We’re waiting again to hear what the Fed has to say because everybody’s on tenterhooks,” Sarah Hunt, an associate fund manager and analyst who helps oversee $4.5 billion at Purchase, New York-based Alpine Woods Capital Investors LLC, said in a phone interview. “Earnings have been a mixed bag but I would say mostly positive.”

The Federal Open Market Committee, started a two-day meeting today. The Fed will probably maintain its benchmark interest rate at 0.25%, according to several economists. Policy makers will most likely begin to reduce the central bank’s bond-purchase program in September.

Home prices surged in May by the most in more than seven years as the recovery in U.S. residential real estate gained momentum, showed a report issued yesterday. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values climbed 12.2% from May 2012, after advancing 12.1% a month earlier. The median projection of 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 12.4% advance.

The U.S. consumer confidence fell to 80.3 in July from 82.1 a month earlier, data from the New York-based private research group showed. Investors will get further clues to the state of the economy later this week with the release of data on U.S. gross domestic product and the monthly labor report.

In corporate news, Sprint Corp. jumped 7.3% to $6.16. Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse predicted the carrier would begin adding monthly contract customers in 2014 after the shutdown of its Nextel network last month. Sprint posted a loss of $1.6 billion, or 53 cents, for the second quarter, wider than the 31 cents estimated by analysts.

Goodyear jumped 8.9% to $18.56. The largest U.S. tire-maker said second-quarter earnings were 76 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated 48 cents a share.

Technology shares added the most among 10 main industries in the S&P 500 today. Western Union Co. jumped 4.5% to $17.75, the highest level since October, as the world’s biggest money-transfer business reported profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates. Cisco Systems Inc. advanced 1.3% to $25.67 for the largest increase in the Dow.

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