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Stocks close mixed after day of light trading

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan on Monday. (July 29, 2013) Credit: Bloomberg News

On the stock market yesterday, it felt like late-summer inertia had already set in.

U.S. stocks wandered between the tiniest of gains and losses before closing mixed. Traders were indecisive as companies released mixed earnings news, and many were disinclined to make any big moves before getting direction from the Federal Reserve, which is scheduled to release an updated policy statement Wednesday.

It was reminiscent of a typical late-summer day on the stock exchange, when many traders take off for vacation and fewer stocks trade hands. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 72 points in early trading -- less than 0.5 percent -- before flickering lower. It dipped into the red for most of the afternoon and closed down 1.38 points at 15,520.59.

"It seems like the doldrums of summer have set in," said Dave Abate, senior wealth adviser at Strategic Wealth Partners in Seven Hills, Ohio.

The Nasdaq composite rose 0.48 percent to 3,616.47, though even that gain was largely because Apple, its biggest component, was up 1.23 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index plodded just a fraction higher, up 0.04 percent, to 1,685.96. Three of its industry sectors rose, led by technology stocks. Seven fell, dragged down by telecommunications companies.

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