Weak earnings keep stocks close to level
NEW YORK -- The stock market finished pretty much where it started Wednesday as a mixed bag of earnings from big-name American companies left investors uninspired.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the market's most widely used barometer, ended up, but just barely: 0.01 point.
The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 43 points, held back by big drops in Procter & Gamble and AT&T. P&G issued a weak quarterly profit forecast and AT&T lost subscribers from its contract-based plans for the first time.
Investors are taking their cue from a heavy dose of earnings this week.
P&G, the maker of Tide detergent and Gillette razors, dropped $4.82, or 5.1 percent, to $77.12 after its profit forecast came in below what financial analysts were expecting. The company reported uneven demand for its new products.
AT&T dropped $1.96, or 5.2 percent, to $37.04 after it lost phone subscribers from its contract-based plans in its latest quarter. It's a sign that industry growth is slowing now that most American have smartphones.