Down a little yesterday, up a little today, the stock market continued to vacillate as investors waited for next Wednesday and what could be the stock market's most important day of the summer.
That's when the Federal Reserve will make a decision on raising interest rates, the United States is scheduled to turn over Iraq to the temporary new government and many corporations will end their second quarter and begin to tally up profits.
With so much substantive data coming down the pike and so little market-moving information coming out of Wall Street, investors are treading water.
Today the major indexes spent the morning submerged, then popped up after lunch to end the session with small gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed a little less than 24 points to 10,395.07.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index closed with a more significant gain of almost 20 points at 1,994.15
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index gained 4 points to 1,134.41.
The Dow was dampened by Wal-Mart, whose stock fell 87 cents a share after a federal judge authorized a nationwide class action sex discrimination lawsuit against the chain on behalf of female employees.
A small group of women in California have sued Wal-Mart, claiming they were denied promotions and given lower pay because of their gender. Today's decision expands that case to cover all the women of Wal-Mart, making it potentially the biggest sex discrimination lawsuit ever.
The Wal-Mart case gives Wall Street two worries: the majority of Wal-Mart shoppers are women, who could be turned off by charges that the company exploits female employees. The case also could exacerbate Wal-Mart's labor troubles. Unions are trying hard to organize Wal-Mart workers. So far they have had little success, but that could change if the case produces evidence that workers are not treated equally.