The Dow Jones industrial average fell to a two-month low as higher oil prices and disappointing results from J.P. Morgan Chase and Honeywell International suggested that profit growth may slow more than forecast.
"We're not going to be bailed out by earnings here in the quarter," said Allen Ashcroft, who helps manage $2.5 billion at MTB Investment Advisors in Baltimore. "I just don't see a catalyst; it's a muddle-along situation."
The Dow dropped 10.69, or 0.1 percent, to 9886.93, a level not seen since Aug. 13. Gains among energy stocks helped the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index recover from earlier losses. The benchmark rose 0.43, or 0.04 percent, to 1103.66. The Nasdaq composite index, which gets 42 percent of its value from computer-related shares, rose 10.07, or 0.5 percent, to 1932.97 as semiconductor makers climbed.
Crude oil for November delivery rose 3.1 percent to $54.92 a barrel in New York and earlier touched $55.20. The Energy Department said stockpiles of heating oil fell to 49.5 million barrels, leaving supplies 11 percent lower than a year earlier.
J.P. Morgan Chase, the second-biggest U.S. bank, fell 73 cents, to $37.25. Earnings dropped 13 percent because of costs related to the July purchase of Bank One and a slump in fixed- income trading.
Financial shares were the biggest drag on the S&P 500 among its 10 industry groups. Citigroup, the largest financial services company, slipped 30 cents, to $43.29. Bank of America, the No. 3 U.S. bank, fell 64 cents, to $43.72.
Honeywell declined $1.64, to $33.80. The largest maker of cockpit electronics said fourth-quarter profit may be less than analysts expect.
Motorola, the world's second-largest maker of mobile phones, slumped $1.41, to $17.09. The company said its market share dropped in the third quarter and fourth-quarter sales will trail analysts' estimates.
Energy stocks rose along with the price of oil. Exxon Mobil advanced 56 cents, to $48.87. Valero Energy, the No. 3 U.S. oil refiner, jumped $1.52, to $42. Noble, which drills for oil and natural gas in waters off five continents, rose $1.80, to $46.28. Transocean, the largest offshore oil driller, gained $2.11, to $36.20.
Semiconductor stocks, the worst performers in the S&P 500 this year, gained for a fourth day. Intel, the biggest computer-processor maker, rose 65 cents, to $21.45. Texas Instruments, which earlier in the week reported better-than-expected earnings, gained 32 cents, to $22.87. Qualcomm, the No. 2 maker of mobile-phone chips after Texas Instruments, rose 61 cents, to $43.41.
Pfizer, the world's No. 1 drugmaker, sank 70 cents, to $28.30. Third-quarter sales rose 4 percent, to $12.8 billion, less than analysts expected and the smallest revenue increase in more than two years.
Electronic Arts sank $1.87, to $44.79. The largest U.S. video-game maker said profit in the quarter ending Dec. 31, excluding costs related to an acquisition, will be lower than analysts' estimates.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 9.09, to 6539.48; the American Stock Exchange index rose 12.81, to 1299.36; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 3.46, to 570.13.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 7 to 6 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.69 billion shares, from 1.74 billion on Tuesday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advancers outnumbered decliners by 9 to 7 and volume totaled 1.64 billion, down from 1.7 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note rose $3.75 per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 3.99 percent, from 4.03 percent on Tuesday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 108.19 yen, down from 108.41 late Tuesday, and a euro bought $1.2587, up from $1.2518.
* Gold for current delivery rose to $423.50 a troy ounce, from $420.30 on Tuesday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.