Good housing report elevates stocks

U.S. markets were mixed early Wednesdy, Oct. 17, U.S. markets were mixed early Wednesdy, Oct. 17, 2012, on a strong showing in home building and weaker-than-expected earnings reports. These traders were working earlier this week. (Oct. 15, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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A surprisingly strong housing report helped push the stock market mostly higher Wednesday, while weak earnings reports from Intel and IBM weighed on the Dow Jones industrial average.

The Dow edged up 5.22 points to close at 13,557, barely managing its fourth straight day of gains. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.41 percent to 1,460.91.

For the week, the Dow is up 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 is up 2.3 percent.

Analysts still expect that third-quarter earnings for companies in the S&P 500 will shrink for the first time since 2009.

IBM reported sales late Tuesday that missed Wall Street's expectations. On a call with analysts, IBM's chief financial officer said the company faced "more challenging" market conditions in September as cautious customers and a weakening euro undercut its results. IBM's stock sank $10.37 to $200.63.

Intel warned that sales of personal computers will likely remain weak during the holiday season this year.

But the Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders broke ground on building new single-family houses and apartments at the fastest pace since July 2008.

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In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index inched up 0.10 percent to 3,104.12.

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