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Stocks finish mixed after GM’s upgrade

Wall Street ended Tuesday mixed, with an analyst’s upgrade of General Motors Corp. carrying the Dow Jones industrial average to a fresh six-year high and within reach of its best close ever. Dell Inc.’s profit warning put a dent in the technology sector
/ Source: The Associated Press

Wall Street ended Tuesday mixed, with an analyst’s upgrade of General Motors Corp. carrying the Dow Jones industrials to a fresh six-year high and within reach of its best-ever close. Dell Inc.’s profit warning put a dent in the tech sector.

The Dow pressed toward its all-time closing high although investors anxiously awaited the Federal Reserve’s next move on interest rates when policymakers meet Wednesday. Many on Wall Street are hoping the Fed will signal that an end to its rate tightening is near.

But analysts say the Dow is poised to break its record and could push higher. Ken Tower, chief market strategist for Schwab’s CyberTrader, said investors appeared increasingly optimistic about the market, especially after stocks held onto their sharp gains from the end of last week.

“People became much more bullish on Friday morning, and the fact they didn’t sober up over the weekend is a very positive sign for the market,” Tower said. “Of course, everything depends on the Fed. But at least for the moment, you have to look at the market in a positive light.”

Dell said its first-quarter sales and profit will miss prior estimates, hurt by discounting as it fought to keep pace with competitors. Meanwhile, solid April sales at McDonald’s Corp. were helping the Dow’s advance and countering a rise in oil prices.

The Dow rose 55.23, or 0.48 percent, to 11,639.77. The index of 30 blue-chip stocks is 83 points from its all-time closing high of 11,722.98, reached Jan. 14, 2000.

Broader stock indicators finished mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.48, or 0.04 percent, to 1,325.14, and the Nasdaq composite index slid 6.74, or 0.29 percent, to 2,338.25.

Bonds drifted lower ahead of the Fed’s meeting, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 5.13 percent from 5.11 percent late Monday.

The dollar also weakened against the Japanese yen as the market worried about higher interest rates affecting the amount of credit flowing into the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, gold prices soared to $700 an ounce as investors looked to hedge their losses, said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital.

Crude oil futures marched upward amid persistent concerns about Iran’s nuclear arms program. A barrel of light crude added 92 cents to settle at $70.69 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where gasoline rose 4.3 cents to $2.047 a gallon.

Wall Street had little reaction to a lower-than-expected rise in wholesale inventories. The Commerce Department said inventories grew just 0.2 percent in March after swelling 0.9 percent the month before, below estimates of 0.5 percent.

Dell plunged $1.23 to $25.20 on its warning. The news also weighed on chipmaker Intel Corp., which fell 21 cents to $19.90.

After the closing bell, networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. posted a slight drop in earnings despite revenue swelling 18 percent. Cisco lost 8 cents to $21.68 in regular trading and slid another 33 cents in after-hours activity.

Deutsche Bank lifted GM one notch to “hold,” citing recent moves to generate liquidity and progress with its restructuring. GM rose $2.25 to $25.80.

McDonald’s posted a 6.2 percent jump in global same-store sales, led by gains in Europe and the United States. McDonald’s added 44 cents to $35.83.

Residential mortgage lender Fannie Mae said more errors have been uncovered in the government-ordered review of its accounting. Fannie Mae nonetheless rose $1.38 to $51.52.

Declining issues trailed advancers by 17 to 16 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume of 2.35 billion led the 2.3 billion shares that changed hands Monday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.88, or 0.11 percent, to 780.72.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average lost 0.58 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.63 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.21 percent and France’s CAC-40 was higher by 0.56 percent.