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Stocks move higher in early morning trading

October 28, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stocks finished mostly lower Tuesday after fluctuating sharply as investors digested mixed reports on home prices and consumer confidence.

The market opened higher after the release of a widely followed index that showed home prices in 20 cities rose 1% in August from July, marking the third consecutive monthly increase.

But the gains quickly turned into losses after the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index for October fell unexpectedly to 47.7, its second-lowest level since May. Analysts had expected a reading of 53.1, slightly lower than September's level.

The major stock indexes reached back into positive territory before going their own ways the rest of the day.

Rising energy stocks and a decision by IBM to double its stock-repurchase plan propped up the Dow Jones industrials, but the tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index slid after Chinese Internet search giant Baidu warned that its revenue could take a hit from a new advertising system. IBM shares rose 0.5%, while Baidu's U.S.-traded shares tumbled 11%.

The Dow rose 14.21 points, or 0.1%, to 9,882.17. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.54 points, or 0.3%, to 1,063.41, while the Nasdaq fell 25.76 points, or 1.2%, to 2,116.09.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies slid 1.1%.

Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yields on government debt retreated after strong demand at a Treasury auction signaled that investors continue to seek safety. The benchmark 10-year T-note fell to 3.46% from 3.55% late Monday.

The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices fell. Energy stocks rallied as oil futures, rebounding from after a three-day slide, rose 87 cents to $79.55 a barrel. Exxon Mobil climbed 2.3%.

In other market highlights:

* CIT Group sank 11 cents to 96 cents after billionaire investor Carl Icahn offered to buy some of its debt to thwart a restructuring plan by the commercial lender.

* Carter's plunged 24%. The children's clothing maker is delaying its third-quarter results while it reviews its accounting regarding wholesale customers.

* U.S. Steel lost 7.8% after the company reported a third straight quarterly loss.

* In overseas trading, key stock indexes fell 0.1% in Germany and 0.3% in Japan while edging lower in France. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.2%.

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