* Insurer Travelers rises after results, J&J edges lower
* Google, IBM and Texas Instruments to report late Tuesday
* Weak existing-home sales has little effect on market
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq off 0.1 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 22 U.S. stocks mostly edged up on
Tuesday after ending last week at five-year highs, but gains
were limited with investors showing caution as the earnings
season picks up speed.
Both the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 closed at
five-year highs on Friday, boosted by better-than-expected
results in the early part of the earnings season. Although major
companies have issued bullish statements, many investors remain
wary that economic uncertainty in the fourth quarter dented
earnings and revenues.
"The market is playing wait-and-see to see the way the
earnings come in this week because you've got some biggies,"
said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson &
Co., in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Recent concerns about waning demand for Apple Inc
products and a weak outlook from Intel Corp have
diminished optimism about the tech sector's prospects. The S&P
technology sector index, down 0.4 percent, was the
worst performing of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors on Tuesday.
Major tech companies scheduled to report results after the
market's close on Tuesday include Google Inc,
International Business Machines and Texas Instruments
. Tech bellwethers Apple and Microsoft Corp are
also set to report earnings this week.
"Any one of those, if there is a big surprise up or down,
could shift the balance in the markets. So investors are being
far more cautious than normal, especially with the market
averages having broken out to five-year highs," Dickson said.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 31.32 points,
or 0.23 percent, to 13,681.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
added 1.48 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,487.46. The
Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 4.42 points, or 0.14
percent, to 3,130.29.
Four Dow components reported early on Tuesday, and three
rose on the results. Insurer Travelers Cos was the
standout, climbing 2.6 percent to $78.33 and giving the biggest
boost to the Dow after the company forecast higher premiums
across its business.
DuPont, the largest U.S. chemical company by market
capitalization, reported revenue that exceeded Wall Street's
expectations, while Verizon Communications Inc also
posted revenue that beat forecasts.
Shares of DuPont shot up 1.6 percent to $47.75 while
Verizon's stock rose 0.9 percent to $42.94.
On the downside, shares of Johnson & Johnson, the
diversified health company, slipped 0.6 percent to $72.79 after
the Dow component forecast 2013 earnings below expectations.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning,
of the 74 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings
so far, 62.2 percent have topped expectations, roughly even with
the 62 percent average since 1994, but below the 65 percent
average over the past four quarters.
Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to
have risen 2.6 percent. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent
forecast from the start of earnings season, but well below the
9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from Oct. 1, the
Economic data from the National Association of Realtors
showed existing-home sales unexpectedly fell 1 percent in
December, which was below expectations, but not a big enough dip
to suggest the housing market's recovery may be in jeopardy.
Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives said
they aim on Wednesday to pass a nearly four-month extension of
the U.S. debt limit, allowing the government to borrow enough to
meet its obligations during that period.
Markets have recently been pressured by uncertainty stemming
from Washington about the federal debt limit and spending cuts
that could hamper U.S. growth.
U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion
jumped 9.6 percent to $17.36 a day after its chief executive
said the Canadian company may consider strategic alliances with
other companies after the launch of devices powered by RIM's new
BlackBerry 10 operating system.