Corporate profits continued to beat expectations, crude oil prices rose and consumer confidence slipped but the statistic that mattered most today on Wall Street was the temperature.
Whether you called it 95, 96 or a hundred and something with the heat index, it was too hot for traders to get exercised about anything today.
Stocks crept ahead lethargically as utility companies struggled to keep up with record electricity consumption in the Northeast.
Generating all that power requires massive amounts of coal, oil and natural gas, which keeps up the demand that is pushing fuel prices higher. Today crude oil inched up a bit more, climbing to $59.20 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
So far the economic impact of high priced petroleum products has been minimal, but today's Conference Board survey of consumer confidence hinted that costly crude is sinking in. The survey showed confidence falling and high gasoline prices getting much of the blame.
Technology companies gave investors something to focus on and gave the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index a 9 point lift to 2,175.99. Texas Instruments, which makes the chips used in many mobile phones, came through with profits that were about 10 percent better than expected, lifting its stock, the Nasdaq composite and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. The S&P gained 2 points to 1,231.16.
Also adding to what excitement the market could muster was Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, the nation's biggest defense contractor, which predicted its earnings for the year could be as much as 20 cents a share higher than analysts have projected.
But today's trading was so subdued, that all it took was one disappointing profit report to keep the Dow Jones industrial average down for the day. The Dow dropped 17 points to 10,579.77 after DuPont Co. cut back its earnings projection for the remainder of the year.
Falling almost $3 a share, DuPont stock trimmed almost 23 points off the Dow, leaving it with a loss while other indexes scored small gains.