Closing Bell: Mixed Earnings, Economic News Keep Market Gains in Check

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U.S. stocks ended Friday's trading with small gains, after mixed earnings news and two key measures of the economy kept investor enthusiasm in check.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) crept up 3 points -- virtually unchanged -- to 15,464. The S&P 500 (^GPSC) added 5 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,680, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) gained 22 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,600.

Data showing a firm rise in wholesale prices had some investors concerned that inflationary pressures might make the Federal Reserve more comfortable reducing its monetary stimulus and ending the low interest rates that have fueled the stock market's rise. Also, a University of Michigan measure of consumer sentiment came in lower than expected for this month. Though still positive, the data suggested that Americans' shopping habits in early July were affected by a drop in stock prices and a rise in interest rates.

Shares of Boeing Co. (BA) sank after two its 787 Dreamliner planes ran into trouble in England on Friday. One caught fire, temporarily shutting down Heathrow Airport, and another was forced to turn back to Manchester airport by an unspecified technical issue. The incidents are unwelcome news for Chicago-based Boeing, whose Dreamliners were cleared to fly again in April after a four-month grounding due to concerns about overheating batteries. Boeing shares fell $5.01, or 4.7 percent, to $101.87.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sweetened his bid for Dell (DELL) by adding warrants that would increase the value of the offer to as much as $18 a share from $14. Under the new offer, Dell shareholders would get $14 a share and a warrant for every four shares held. The warrant would entitle the holder to buy Dell shares for $20 each within the next seven years. The move is Icahn's latest effort to block a $24.4 billion buyout offer, or $13.65 a share, from company founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. Shares of Dell ended at $13.32, down e cents or 0.2 percent.

Stocks in the news Friday:
  • United Parcel Service (UPS) fell $5.33, or 5.8 percent, to $86.12 after saying its second-quarter and full-year earnings will be less than analysts have been expecting because the company's customers are using cheaper shipping options. UPS also said it's seeing a slowdown in U.S. industry.
  • Rival shipping company FedEx (FDX) fell, too. Its shares were down $2.02, or 2.1 percent, to $102.29.
  • Cost-cutting boosted profits at Wells Fargo (WFC), and its stock rose 74 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $42.63. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) reported a 32 percent jump in profits, but its stock dropped 17 cents, close to 0.3 percent, to end at $54.97.
  • Michael Kors is suing Costco Wholesale (COST), accusing the big-box retailer of a bait-and-switch scheme. Allegedly, pictures of Kors' luxury bags were used in ads to lure customers, when Costco wasn't actually authorized to sell the designer's wares. A federal lawsuit alleges that Costco advertised the bags as starting at $99, but didn't actually have any to sell. Costco ended Friday's trading up 59 cents, nearly 0.5 percent, at $115.87.
  • Gap (GPS) rose 34 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $45.10. Three analysts lifted their price targets after the retailer posted revenue at stores open at least a year that was better than the market was expecting.
  • WebMD Health (WBMD) jumped $6.86, or 25.5 percent, to $33.82 after the medical website operator sharply raised its forecast for its second-quarter results, citing strong demand from advertisers.
  • RadioShack (RSH) rose 29 cents, or 11 percent, to $2.91. Investors were spooked late Thursday after a report that it had hired financial advisers. But they appeared to be reassured after the struggling electronics retailer said it has a strong balance sheet and that the "sole focus" of its discussions with advisers is further strengthening it.
What to watch next week:

Investors will get a lot more information starting Monday, when key reports on inflation, unemployment and retail sales are due. It's also when earnings season begins in earnest. Reports are due from the remaining big banks, as well as General Electric (GE), Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT), among other bellwethers.

-Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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Closing Bell: Mixed Earnings, Economic News Keep Market Gains in Check
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