S&P, Nasdaq trade up, Dow drops

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange minutes before the closing bell on Monday. The monthly manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management on Monday pointed to an improvement. (Oct. 1, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

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Mixed signals on the world economy tugged on major stock indexes Tuesday.

The country's largest fertilizer company, Mosaic, said weak demand from China and India has hurt its profits. Mosaic, Dupont and stocks of other companies in the materials industry fell.

But utilities and health care stocks, where investors often retreat in a slow-growing economy, helped pull the Standard & Poor's 500 index above the break-even mark.

The S&P 500 rose 0.09 percent to 1,445.75. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 32.75 points to 13,482.36. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.21 percent to 3,120.04.

The market could remain quiet until the government gives its monthly jobs report on Friday, said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at ING Investment Management. Economists expect the jobless rate to increase to 8.2 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August.

Zemsky said a surprise swing up or down "could change the direction of the stock market and the presidential election."

Indexes took a turn lower at midday after Spain's prime minister said he's not preparing a request for a bailout loan. Spain needs to ask for money from Europe's bailout fund before the European Central Bank can start buying Spanish government bonds. -- AP

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