NEW YORK – Stocks ended Wednesday mixed, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 12,000 for the first time since June 2008.
The Dow traded in a tight range throughout the day as investors weighed the impact of unrest in Egypt against better-than-expected news on the job market.
"The market seems to be catching its breath after that strong run Tuesday," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist for RidgeWorth Investments.
Traders' television screens were filled with scenes of fighting in Egypt between groups that support President Hosni Mubarak and those who are calling for his ouster. Mubarak vowed Tuesday that he will not run for president in September but did not say he would take any steps to leave office before then.
Egypt is not a major producer of oil but controls the Suez Canal, a key shipping lane in the global oil business. Oil prices fluctuated throughout the day as traders balanced the clashes in Egypt with a report that fuel supplies were growing in the U.S. Oil settled 9 cents higher at $90.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Dow rose 1.81 points to end the day at 12,041.97. That's the highest close since June 19, 2008.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,304.03. Nine of its 10 company groups fell. Financial companies had the largest fall of any group, dropping 0.9 percent.
The Nasdaq composite lost 1.63 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,749.56.
Early Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said that private companies added more jobs in January than analysts predicted. That's a hopeful sign for the Labor Department's monthly employment report, due out Friday. Economists expect the government to say the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent in January from 9.4 percent the previous month.
Time Warner Inc. rose almost 9 percent after the owner of Warner Bros., HBO and CNN said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 22 percent. The company also raised its 2011 forecasts.
Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. jumped 16 percent after the company also raised its profit forecast. The company was the best performer in the S&P 500.
Mattel Inc. gained 1 percent after the country's largest toy maker said its revenue rose 9 percent on strong sales of Barbie and Fisher-Price toys. Whirlpool Corp. fell 2 percent after the company said it would raise prices in response to higher costs of raw materials.
Treasury prices fell, pushing their yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.48 percent from 3.43 percent late Tuesday.
Falling shares outpaced rising ones by a small margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume came to 4.15 billion shares.
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