updated 7/27/2005 7:11:03 AM ET 2005-07-27T11:11:03

Stocks ended an erratic session mixed Tuesday, as investors weighed slightly higher oil prices against strong earnings from companies including Verizon Communications Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Major Market Indices

The major indexes wavered throughout the day as investors tracked fluctuations in crude oil futures, which settled above $59 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Rising oil prices, which could lead to lower consumer spending and declining corporate earnings, have shadowed stocks for months and distracted investors Tuesday from the current crop of upbeat earnings reports.

Wall Street also reacted strongly to any company news that strayed from expectations. Investors punished chemical maker DuPont Co. because its sales fell below forecasts , but bid up Lockheed Martin Corp., the nation’s biggest defense contractor, whose forecast for the year was above expectations .

“The market’s being very selective about who they reward and who they punish,” said Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup. “If a company comes through and literally trounces the numbers, the stock gets a positive reaction. ... If it isn’t perfect, they beat them up.”

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the session down 16.71 points, or 0.2 percent, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 2.13 points, or 0.2 percent. The Nasdaq composite index gained 9.25 points, or 0.4 percent.

The stock market isn’t reacting to solid earnings because “there’s much more discounting of risk than there has been in the past; the risk of higher oil prices, the risk of higher interest rates,” said Hans F. Olsen, managing director and chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers, a private wealth management firm in Boston. “This has been buffeting the stock market for the better part of a year.”

Michael Strauss, chief economist at Commonfund, which manages about $34 billion for nonprofit institutions, said, “It doesn’t look like earnings have the huge upside surprise to catapult the market higher. At the same time, the earnings are there, so it’s hard to get any type of sustainable weakness either; hence, the continuation of a very narrow trading range with a slight upside bias.”

Stocks also stumbled in early trading after Chinese officials suggested last week’s revaluation of the yuan may have been an isolated step. After the revaluation, the Chinese currency will be pegged to a basket of currency instead of being pegged solely to the dollar, but investors hope Chinese central bankers will eventually allow the yuan to float, which could make Chinese goods look like less of a bargain compared to products made in America.

Americans’ faith in the economy, as measured by the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index , edged lower in July following three months of gains. Lynn Franco, director of the organization’s Consumer Research Center, said the dip, to 103.2 from June’s reading of 106.2, was “no cause for concern.”

DuPont fell $2.89 to $41.15, although the company beat earnings forecasts. Lockheed Martin, which also beat expectations, gained $1.48 to $63.99.

Sun Microsystems Inc. reported earnings of a penny a share , in line with analysts’ expectations. The stock closed regular trading unchanged, at $3.85, then rose 11 cents to $3.96 in extended trading.

Amazon.com Inc. also reported sharply lower earnings , but beat analysts’ earnings estimates. Its stock, which closed regular trading down 21 cents to $37.74, gained $2.48 to reach $40.22 in extended trading.

Verizon, the nation’s largest phone company, rose 11 cents to $34.13 after reporting its second-quarter profit rose 19 percent . Earnings were boosted by the sale of its operations in Hawaii and another powerful showing for Verizon Wireless.

Black & Decker Corp., the power tools and home improvement products maker, beat expectations with a second-quarter profit that rose 27 percent. But its chief financial officer said on a conference call with investors the company was seeing “more cautious order patterns by retailers” and the stock fell $1.53 to $90.27.

BP Group PLC, one of the world’s largest oil companies, said quarterly profits rose 29 percent on the strength of world oil prices , but said it was taking a $700 million charge to settle claims from a refinery explosion. The stock dropped $1.38 to $65.50.

Texas Instruments’ quarterly profit rose 42 percent , beating analysts’ estimates, as the semiconductor maker benefited from lower inventory levels among customers and robust demand for chips in a variety of new electronic gadgets. Its stock rose $1.70 to $32.30.

General Motors Corp. climbed $1.09 to $36.96 after the company’s GMAC financial services unit said it will sell up to $55 billion worth of car loan contracts to Bank of America Corp. over the next five years.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.21 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.28 percent, France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.03 percent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.02 percent.

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

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