updated 7/13/2010 7:43:37 AM ET 2010-07-13T11:43:37

Stocks closed mixed Monday as investors grew more cautious while they waited for the start of second-quarter earnings reports. They got some good news after trading ended, when Alcoa Inc. reported better than expected results.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18 points and the other big indexes also had slight gains. But almost two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, a sign that investors were wary about earnings.

Alcoa didn't disappoint them. The aluminum maker beat analysts' expectations, and it also said it was raising its forecast for consumption of the metal this year. That was particularly heartening for investors who have worried that the global economy was slowing, or even headed for another recession. The company's stock rose nearly 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Quotes delayed 15+ min.

Investors made few big moves as they waited for Alcoa's earnings. So they showed little reaction to news of several corporate acquisitions.

Insurance broker Aon Corp. said it will buy human resources company Hewitt Associates for $4.9 billion in cash and stock, and Playboy Enterprises Inc. founder Hugh Hefner offered to take the media company private. Also Avon Products Inc. agreed to buy Silpada Designs for $650 million in a bid to expand its jewelry business.

Investors generally see acquisitions as a sign that companies are confident and willing to spend cash to expand.

Earnings are likely to dominate trading for the next few weeks. Investors are seeking insight into the state of the economy not only from how well companies fared during the April-June period, but also from their forecasts for the coming quarters. In particular, investors want to see whether sluggish retail sales, waning consumer confidence and high unemployment have actually hurt corporate profits.

Greg Estes, fund manager at Intrepid Capital Funds in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., said of companies' forecasts, "people are really wanting to see things get better." He said some industries like technology were more likely to report improvement versus those that rely more on consumer spending.

Tech stocks rose after analysts upgraded their ratings of Qualcomm Inc. and SanDisk Corp. The analysts forecast continuing growth in the smart phone market.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.24, or 0.2 percent, to 10,216.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.79, or 0.1 percent, to 1,078.75, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 1.91, or 0.1 percent, to 2,198.36.

Consolidated volume on the NYSE, which includes shares traded on other exchanges, came to a light 3.47 billion shares as many investors chose to sit out the day while they waited for Alcoa's report. On Friday, consolidated volume totaled 3.56 billion shares.

Major Market Indices

Investors' caution followed the market's biggest weekly gains in a year. Some analysts have questioned how long the rebound would last. But if earnings and companies' forecasts are upbeat and indicate that the economic recovery is proceeding despite continuing high unemployment and weak consumer spending, investors are likely to keep buying. The Dow is still down 9 percent from its 2010 high reached in late April.

Economic news this week should shed some light about how well the recovery is going. In addition to earnings reports, readings are also due on retail sales, weekly jobless claims, manufacturing activity, consumer sentiment and inflation.

Alcoa rose to $11.23 in after-hours trading after falling 7 cents to $10.87 in regular trading.

Other materials stocks fell in regular trading. A drop in commodities imports in China, particularly copper, hurt shares of companies like Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. Its shares fell $2.76, or 4.2 percent, to $63.22.

Hewitt shares jumped $11.39, or 32.2 percent, to $46.79. Aon shares fell $2.72, or 7.1 percent, to $35.62. Playboy jumped $1.52, or 37.4 percent, to $5.58. Avon rose 15 cents to $28.42.

Qualcomm rose $1.19, or 3.5 percent, to $35.10. SanDisk rose $2.91, or 6.8 percent, to $45.81.

Bond prices traded in a tight range. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from late Friday at 3.06 percent.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.82, or 1.2 percent, to 621.61.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.2 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.2 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average dipped 0.4 percent after the ruling party lost elections Sunday.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Will Wall Street gains translate to jobs?

  1. Closed captioning of: Will Wall Street gains translate to jobs?

    >> economy. all signs point to a big week on wall street with corporations set to announce second quarter earnings, but what does it mean for you? we have jim cramer , who is the host of " mad money " joins us. good morning. usually when you're here, you come bearing bad news. today you're all smiles. why is wall street so happy?

    >> one of the things that's occurred is we're at ernlgs season, and i think it's going to be a good season. the companies have too much cash. very strange position to be in. they hire or give it back to shareholders.

    >> we have a first indication of that last week. the stock market jumped 450 points which is?

    >> 5%, which is a gigantic move. typically that means people are too negative. i've been saying it's just not a jobs recovery. i think that's going to change in the second half. we're starting to see hiring for the first time on wall street . very important.

    >> so that point, though, that wall street is beginning to hire, even though we're not seeing overwhelming hiring in the rest of the sectors, what does that mean? is that an indicator?

    >> it's a fantastic indicator. they tend to be ahead. they start hiring because companies need more money. they only need more money when they want to expand rather than contract. i've always found when wall street is hiring, more hiring follows. it's a very important predictor.

    >> i'll put your feet to the fire. where do the first jobs come at wall street , what sector?

    >> i think the automobile industry is hotter than anybody realizes. the numbers for june are extraordinary. i think things are improving in the country.

    >> how soon might they begin?

    >> it will be something they have to do by september. i think people are sproized the inventories are low. we see material that is go into car starting to go up in price. the railroad car loadings are the best in years. this stuff cannot be ignored.

    >> you're being very optimistic here. what about the talk about the double dip ? what do you think?

    >> i think you can take that off the table. i think we're not going to have a strong economy, but the rest of the world is on fire. south korea , mexico, latin america , india, china, even germany and france, these are more important countries than we think. they can pull our economy up.

    >> if wall street got us into the mess, is it the world leading us out or wall street ?

    >> it's the world. i don't want to be as optimistic about our economy. we haven't created jobs yet. the census jobs end, so it won't seem so rosy. when industrial america starts to hire, it's hard to stay negative.

    >> you say the recovery is like this. it's going up bushg, but it's going down a little bit.

    >> a lot of the worry was about that europe was about to fall apart. i think that's not going to happen. the systemic worry the whole world is blowing up, that is off the table, ann, and that's very positive.

    >> what about this other view, for the full recovery to happen will take a long time? will you agree with this idea? some jobs won't come back or take years to come back?

    >> i think that's very true. we don't have enough money as a government to continue to spend money without raising taxes . raising taxes would send us into a double dip . we're getting clues the administration doesn't want to do that. the administration is declaring a truce against business. of course, they never thought they were at war.

    >> jim cramer , that's the last word. we're out of time. we get a lot when we talk to you. you can catch " mad money " weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 eastern


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