Wall Street finished an uncertain session mixed Wednesday, encouraged by a drop in oil prices but worried about disappointing earnings from Time Warner. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index inched upward and reached a four-year high for the fourth time in six sessions.
One day after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite index broke through their June 2001 levels, investors appeared willing to wait for better news. With the Labor Department's jobs report due Friday and the Federal Reserve's latest decision on interest rates Tuesday, investors were considered unlikely to bid stocks much higher in the meantime.
The S&P 500 gained 0.92, or 0.1 percent, to 1245.04, its best close since June 12, 2001. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.85, or 0.1 percent, to 10,697.59, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.34, or 0.1 percent, to 2216.81.
While Time Warner's worse-than-expected results pressured stocks, investors were relieved by the drop in oil futures, coming as the government's latest inventory report showed a slight rise in crude stockpiles. Even as oil prices fell, analysts worried that the bullish earnings season -- more than two-thirds of companies have exceeded profit forecasts -- is masking the effects that high energy prices could have on third- and fourth-quarter earnings.
Time Warner fell 15 cents, to $17.27, after the media conglomerate said it will set aside $3 billion to settle lawsuits filed by investors angry over the 2000 merger with America Online. The company also posted earnings that, after one-time charges, were short of Wall Street's expectations by a penny per share.
Reebok International surged $13.19, or 30 percent, to $57.14, after German sports apparel company Adidas-Salomon said it will purchase its U.S. rival. The move will give Adidas, a strong European brand, more exposure to the North American market and allow it to better compete with market leader Nike. Nike gained $1.09, to $86.92.
Exxon Mobil declined 81 cents, to $59, leading a drop in energy companies as oil prices fell. ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. oil refiner, slid 48 cents, to $63.90.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 9.95, to 7566.54.
American Stock Exchange index rose 6.64, to 1636.35.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 5.13, to 683.38.
NYSE: 2.01 billion shares, down from 2.05 billion on Tuesday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 10 to 9.
Nasdaq: 1.79 billion shares, up from 1.76 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 7 to 5.
Crude oil for September delivery: $60.86, down $1.03.
Gold for current delivery: $436.90 a troy ounce, up from $431.90 on Tuesday.