Stocks closed mixed but mostly higher Friday, with Caterpillar's lackluster results dragging down the Dow Jones industrial average while strong earnings from Google led a broader rally. The major benchmarks were mixed for the week.
Friday's skittish session closed out a turbulent week for Wall Street as troubling economic data renewed fears about inflation, overshadowing mostly positive third-quarter profit reports from the nation's biggest companies. Investors scouring for signs of the market's direction sent the Dow climbing more than 1 percent Wednesday, but took back the gains a day later.
Although corporate earnings have so far been favorable, the market is still battling three major headwinds -- rising interest rates, inflation and high energy prices, said Michael Sheldon, chief investment strategist at Spencer Clarke LLC.
"Right now, I think the market needs a catalyst in order to get out of this difficult environment," Sheldon said. "Hopefully, if oil prices continue to decline and move back into the mid-$50s, that could turn sentiment more positive on Wall Street."
The Dow fell 65.88, or 0.6 percent, to 10,215.22, but the broader stock indicators advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 1.79, or 0.2 percent, to 1179.59, and the Nasdaq composite index jumped 14.10, or 0.7 percent, to 2082.21.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.6 percent; the Nasdaq, however, rose 0.8 percent. Trading could be volatile again next week as more companies release their quarterly results.
Crude oil prices lingered below $60 a barrel most of the day before settling at $60.63. Recent government reports indicate U.S. petroleum inventories have been expanding.
Google surged $36.70, or 12.1 percent, to $339.90, after reporting late Thursday that profit grew more than 700 percent, to $381.2 million.
SanDisk gained $10.07, or 21.7 percent, to $56.45, after the maker of flash-memory data storage products reported quarterly profit that almost doubled.
Caterpillar dropped $5.11, to $48.92. While the construction equipment maker posted a 34 percent rise in quarterly profit, it slashed its full-year outlook.
AT&T gained 43 cents, to $19.01. In what could be the company's last earnings report before it is acquired by SBC Communications, AT&T posted a $520 million profit in the third quarter. SBC rose 46 cents, to $23.
Maytag rose 28 cents, to $17.47, despite reporting a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as excess capacity and soaring oil and material costs weighed on its bottom line.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 20.40, to 7254.49.
American Stock Exchange index rose 21.20, to 1597.99.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 5.19, to 632.73.
NYSE: 2.45 billion shares, down from 2.64 billion on Thursday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 2 to 1.
Nasdaq: 1.8 billion shares, down from 1.83 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 14 to 9.
Crude oil for December delivery: $60.63, up 61 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $467.00 a troy ounce, up from $461.00 on Thursday.