Markets flat on mixed earnings reports

Traders work the floor of the New York Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the focus in the United States will again likely remain on earnings after a stream of positive news on Tuesday from the likes of Coach and Netflix. (April 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The stock market finished pretty much where it started Wednesday as a mixed bag of earnings from big-name American companies left investors uninspired.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a widely used market barometer, ended up, but just barely: 0.01 point, to 1,578.79.

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The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 43 points, to 14,676.30, held back by big drops in Procter & Gamble and AT&T. P&G issued a weak quarterly profit forecast, and AT&T lost subscribers from its contract-based plans for the first time. Companies such as Boeing and General Dynamics tempered the mood with strong quarterly profits.

Investors are taking their cue from a heavy dose of earnings this week. So far, 175 of the companies in the S&P 500, or 35 percent, have reported quarterly earnings. Two-thirds of the Dow's members have reported.

While the majority of them have delivered better-than-expected profits, their sales haven't been as strong, suggesting they are struggling to grow.

Though 69 percent of companies in the S&P 500 have beaten earnings expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ, only 39 percent have beaten revenue forecasts.

The Nasdaq composite edged up 0.32 point, to 3,269.55. -- AP

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