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July 23, 2013

Stocks trade flat after mixed earnings results

NEW YORK — A mix of good and bad earnings reports from big companies kept the stock market treading water in early trading Tuesday.

China's pledge to maintain its economic growth also helped.

As of 10 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 51 points at 15,593, an increase of 0.3 percent.

DuPont led the index higher after it said it is exploring a sale of its performance chemicals unit. Its stock rose $1.64, or 3 percent, to $58.78.

United Technologies, citing strong orders at its Otis elevator business in China and for commercial airline parts, turned in results that beat Wall Street's estimates. The conglomerate's results benefited from its acquisitions of Goodrich and Rolls-Royce. United Technologies climbed $2.79, or 3 percent, to $104.81.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed one point to 1,696. The Nasdaq composite slipped three points to 3,597.

Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. said higher prices and lower expenses from a longstanding legal settlement offset a decline in cigarette sales and helped the company post an increase in profits. But the results still fell short of analysts' expectations. Altria's stock sank $1.13, or 3 percent, to $35.79.

It's a busy day for earnings with 35 companies in the S&P 500 scheduled to turn in results. The scorecard for the second quarter looks good so far. More than six out of every 10 companies have posted earnings that surpassed Wall Street's expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Analysts forecast that companies in the S&P 500 will report second-quarter earnings increased 3.5 percent over last year.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the rate on the 10-year note rose to 2.52 percent from 2.48 percent late Monday. Long-term interest rates have swung in a wide range over recent months, a result of traders speculating over when the Federal Reserve will begin pulling back on its bond buying.

The rate on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for most loans, was trading at 1.61 percent on May 1. It reached as high as 2.75 percent by the second week of July.

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