NEW YORK — The stock market was mixed Tuesday, holding its ground despite a string of earnings disappointments at several major companies.
Analysts said declining interest rates in the credit markets helped support stock prices.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, down 7.51 on Monday, slipped another 0.22 to 1,259.72. But most other, broader market indicators finished with gains.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange stepped up a bit to 89.93 million shares from Monday's 12-week low of 74.04 million.
Lower Earnings Estimates
Concern over the profit outlook began to spread on Wall Street after International Business Machines said late last week that its first-quarter earnings would come in below comparable year-ago levels.
Late Monday, General Electric said its first-quarter profits would fall short of expectations. Then, Tuesday morning, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing lowered its quarterly earnings projection as well.
All three companies have wide followings on Wall Street and are components of the Dow Jones industrial average. Analysts said their estimates intensified investors' concern over evidence of slower-than-expected growth in the economy.
One problem for many companies, including the large multinationals, has been the lofty level of the dollar in foreign exchange. It has dampened demand for U.S.-made goods abroad and subjected domestic sales to increased competition from imports.
However, analysts also said a slowing economy could have some beneficial effects over the long term by taking some pressure off interest rates and the dollar.
Rates on short-term Treasury bills dropped about 5 basis points, or hundredths of a percentage point, in Tuesday's activity. Prices of long-term government bonds, which move in the opposite direction from interest rates, rose about $5 for every $1,000 in face value.
IBM shares, which fell 3 points Monday, recovered 7/8 to 125 3/8.
But GE, which also was indicted on charges of making false claims of labor costs on government contract work, dropped 1 to 59 3/4, and Minnesota Mining was down 2 1/8 at 81 3/8.
G. D. Searle fell 1 3/4 to 47 and led the active list on volume of more than 2 million shares. The stock tumbled 8 points Monday as the company, which had been studying a possible sale of some or all of its businesses, said it decided to continue operating in its present independent form.
The daily tally on the Big Board showed about eight issues rising in price for every seven that declined. The exchange's composite index picked up 0.23 to 103.28.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 107.04 million shares.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 0.53 to 199.13, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 0.46 at 178.43.
The NASDAQ composite index for the over-the-counter market lost 0.08 to 276.18.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index closed at 224.41, up 0.37.
The Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed at 1,835.949, up 3.237.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 1,761, compared to 1,342 on Monday.