Stocks barely moved Thursday as investors wondered whether a welter of weak economic data would end the Federal Reserve's year-long streak of interest rate increases.
Investors were displeased with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's report of a decline in almost every broad indicator it uses to measure the health of its region's manufacturing.
The readings "suggest little to no growth this month," the report said.
The Labor Department reported lower-than-expected inflation data, but gasoline prices jumped by the largest amount in 21/2 years and unemployment filings spiked.
Traders hope signs of a weakening economy will cause the Federal Reserve to curb its year-plus streak of interest rate increases when the central bank's Open Market Committee meets Tuesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.85, or 0.1 percent, to 10,558.75.
Broader stock indicators were mixed, with little movement. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 0.57, or 0.05 percent, to 1227.73, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 3.18, or 0.1 percent, to 2146.15.
Chris Johnson, manager of quantitative analysis at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, worried that some investors will be disappointed if the Fed raises rates on Tuesday.
"My fear here is that there truly are expectations that the Fed is done, that the game is over," Johnson said. "I don't think that's going to be the situation."
As a result, he said, "the boring market today, watching the paint dry, is the precursor to a little more weakness down the road."
Northwest Airlines fell 99 cents, to 88 cents, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Delta Air Lines, which also filed, rose 4 cents, to 75 cents.
Bear Stearns fell $2.60, to $102.90, after revenue from its core bond segment declined slightly.
Time Warner rose 58 cents, to $18.50, after the New York Post reported that it was in talks with Microsoft to sell a stake in America Online.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 5.85, to 7583.14.
American Stock Exchange index rose 1.25, to 1710.13.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 0.93, to 665.42.
NYSE: 2.07 billion shares, up from 1.98 billion on Wednesday. Decliners narrowly outnumbered advancers.
Nasdaq: 1.73 billion shares, up from 1.71 billion. Decliners outpaced advancers 7 to 5.
Crude oil for October delivery: $64.75, down 34 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $455.50 a troy ounce, up from $449.80 on Wednesday.