Investors cautiously pushed blue-chip stocks higher Thursday, extending the Dow Jones industrial average further into record territory even as the broader market ended with mixed results.
Investors often tread water and reassess valuations after stocks push through technical or psychological barriers, such as the Dow’s ascent past the 13,000 mark for the first time Wednesday. Beyond the Dow’s move, investors were also keeping watch over the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which has in recent sessions crept closer to its high of 1,527.46, reached in March 2000.
But the S&P actually lost ground Thursday even as the Dow 30 closed above 13,100 for the first time. Better-than-expected profit news continued to give a modest boost Thursday to the Dow, which has advanced for 18 of the past 20 sessions.
The last time the Dow had a streak that long was in 1929, according to Dow Jones.
Apple said its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 88 percent amid robust sales of iPods and Macintosh computers. Reports from Dow component 3M and automaker Ford Motor Co. also pleased investors. (Click here for full earnings coverage.)
“Once you go through what people consider a milestone you are often going to have a little rest,” said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management. “Earnings are lending support to the market. Obviously, there are some disappointments, but they’re much above what people were expecting.”
Bonds fell amid the continuation of strong earnings reports. The yield on the 10-year note rose to 4.69 percent from 4.65 percent late Wednesday.
The Dow swept past the 13,000 mark Wednesday amid better-than-expected earnings and economic data. But after ganining more than 6 percent over the past month, investors are wondering whether upcoming data will prove the steep climb was justified, or overdone.
While the economic calendar is busier next week, Kiddoo contends earnings news will continue to drive stocks until the middle of next week when investors begin to focus on the government’s employment report, due to arrive May 4.
So far, 21 of the 30 Dow components have reported earnings, with 15 of those reports exceeding expectations. Dow component Exxon Mobil Corp. released better-than-expected earnings Thursday; it rose 86 cents to $80.78. After the market closes, another Dow component and tech leader Microsoft Corp. will release its financial results. Microsoft rose 22 cents to $29.21.
In other corporate news, Apple’s profit report beat analysts’ estimates, and the stock at times surpassed $100 a share. Apple rose $4.58, or 5 percent, to $99.93.
3M reported a profit gain that was higher than Street estimates and rose $3.72, or 4 percent, to $80.69. Ford, meanwhile, reported a narrower-than-expected loss for the first quarter. Ford rose 36 cents, or 5 percent, to $8.24.
Wendy’s International Inc. said late Wednesday it is considering a possible sale of the company, among other options. The burger chain rose $5.29, or 16 percent, to $37.97.
Covansys Corp. rose $6.49, or 24 percent, to $33.29 after the provider of information-technology services agreed to be acquired by Computer Sciences Corp. for $1.3 billion.
Harman International Industries Inc., which makes audio equipment, agreed to be taken private in an $8 billion deal. The company, which also said its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 11 percent, jumped $19.44, or 19 percent, to $122.
A light flow of economic news Thursday didn’t appear to hold much sway over stocks. Among the reports, the Labor Department said applications for jobless benefits fell last week by 20,000, the biggest decrease in nearly two months.
The Chicago Federal Reserve said its index of Midwest manufacturing activity rose 0.8 percent in March.
Investors also seemed unmoved by comments from Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher Thursday that Treasury yields don’t portend a coming recession.
Friday will bring more weighty data for investors, who are especially interested in the Commerce Department’s initial estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product.
Gold fell on Thursday, while the dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Light sweet crude fell 62 cents to $65.21 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.12 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.12 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.60 percent and France’s CAC-40 ended down 0.05 percent.