Stocks were little changed yesterday as concern over higher fuel costs overshadowed reports that showed signs of economic growth.

"You've probably got six or nine more months of positive performance for the economy," said Philip Dow, director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis. "Investors are sort of in a state of denial because of the current scary thought of the day, which right now is oil."

The Dow gained 4.22, or 0.04 percent, to 10,554.93. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 1.22, or 0.1 percent, to 1219.02. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 9.07, or 0.4 percent, to 2136.08.

After reaching a four-year high on Aug. 3, the S&P 500's rally has stalled as oil prices have climbed.

Crude oil for September delivery closed up 2 cents in New York. Goldman Sachs lifted its oil forecast for next year to $68 a barrel and said crude will stay at about $60 for the "long term."

The index of leading U.S. economic indicators rose 0.1 percent in July, the Conference Board said, following a 1.2 percent gain in June. The group's measure is designed to predict the likely performance of the economy during the next three to six months.


Altria Group, the world's largest cigarette maker, climbed $2.53, or 3.7 percent, to $70.39, for the best performance in the Dow. The Illinois Supreme Court is reviewing a $10.1 billion class-action verdict against Altria.

Reynolds American, the parent of the No. 2 U.S. cigarette company, climbed $3.44, or 4.2 percent, to $85.44, for the largest advance in the S&P 500. UST, which makes smokeless tobacco, gained 53 cents, to $43.77.

Limited Brands, owner of the Express and Victoria's Secret chains, declined $1.17, or 5 percent, to $22.11, for the biggest loss in the S&P 500. The company cut its full-year profit forecast to $1.36 to $1.38 a share from the $1.41 it offered in May.

Morgan Stanley slid 55 cents, to $52.30. Chief executive John J. Mack said the world's largest securities firm will keep its Discover credit card business, abandoning a spinoff plan hatched four months ago by his predecessor, Philip J. Purcell.


New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 28.53, to 7433.24.

American Stock Exchange index fell 4.56, to 1597.30.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 3.63, to 651.19.


NYSE: 1.83 billion shares, down from 1.88 billion on Wednesday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 11 to 7.

Nasdaq: 1.41 billion shares, down from 1.54 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 13 to 8.


Crude oil for September delivery: $63.27, up 2 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $439.50 a troy ounce, down from $439.90 on Wednesday.