Markets closed up today:
▲ Dow: +0.27 percent
▲ Nasdaq: +0.79 percent
▲ S&P: +0.27 percent
▲ Gold: up +0.22 percent to $1,581.93 an ounce
▲ Silver: up 0.00 percent to settle at $27.26
▲ Oil: +2.82 percent
Market closed up because:
Strong earnings from IBM and other technology companies nudged the stock market higher Thursday, but a trio of weak economic reports kept the gains in check.
IBM surged 4 percent after it posted a jump in profits late Wednesday even as revenue fell. It marked the 38th consecutive quarter that IBM's net income rose over the previous year. IBM leapt $7.09 to $195.34.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.66 points to close at 12,943.36 on Thursday, the third straight day of gains.
Analysts forecast that earnings at S&P 500 companies shrank 1.5 percent in the April-through-June period versus a year ago, according to researchers at S&P Capital IQ. If that turns out to be true, it will be the worst earnings season since the summer quarter of 2009.
In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 3.73 points to 1,376.51. The Nasdaq composite index rose 23.30 points to 2,965.90.
Despite the modest gains, utilities and consumer staples lagged behind the market, usually a sign that investors were willing to take on risk.
eBay jumped 9 percent after the company reported that its second-quarter net income doubled, thanks to higher revenue from its PayPal online payments business and its e-commerce websites. eBay rose $3.73 to $44.19.
The market wavered in early trading, flipping from gains to losses and back again, after a measure of manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region came in much weaker than economists had expected. Two other economic reports also released at 10 a.m., homes sales and leading economic indicators, were also weak.
Big banks and financial firms were mostly lower, following poor earnings reports from American Express and Morgan Stanley.
American Express lost 4 percent, the largest drop in the Dow, after its earnings missed Wall Street's expectations. Slower growth in Europe weighed on the credit-card company's results as international revenue fell 4 percent. Amex lost $2.06 to $56.23.
Morgan Stanley fell 74 cents to $13.25, a drop of 6 percent. The investment bank's income and revenue fell far short of what analysts expected, dragged down by dismal results from trading stocks and bonds.
The Dow is now up 1.3 percent for the week, and the S&P 500 index 1.5 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.