North American stock markets opened mixed and without much direction, as a cautious tone took hold after more than two months of steady gains that has brought the S&P 500 index close to all-time highs.
In early trading, the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged, perched near the key 1,500 level. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 8 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 13,889; and the Nasdaq was down 0.3 per cent at 3,144.
Here in Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 16 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 12,832. It was finding a little additional support from commodity price gains, with West Texas Intermediate oil up 73 cents at $97.17 (U.S.) a barrel and gold up $8 at $1,660 an ounce.
Traders are taking in another batch of corporate earnings today. The earnings season has been positive - with 75 per cent of S&P 500 companies that reported results so far beating profit expectations. Yet, the recent run-up in U.S. stock values has market participants worried about a pullback and waiting for confirmation that the rally can continue.
The S&P 500 snapped an eight-day winning streak on Monday, a signal that some investors are thinking the market is getting a little frothy, at least in the short term. Some may be staying on the sidelines until the Federal Reserve releases its latest monetary policy statement on Wednesday and the U.S. releases January job figures on Friday.
In economic news today, the S&P/Case Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S. showed home price gains of 0.6 per cent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis. On a year-over-year basis, they rose 5.5 per cent, the strongest price increase since August 2006. The data met economists' expectations and didn't sway market sentiment much.
The latest consumer confidence data from the U.S. Conference Board was a surprise, however. The index dropped to 58.6 in January from 66.7 in December, and well below the 2012 peak of 73.1 in October.
Here's a look at some of the stocks moving on news this morning:
Research In Motion Ltd. shares are down about 3 per cent, one day ahead of the unveiling of the BlackBerry 10. Shares had already dropped nearly 8 per cent on Monday. Analyst sentiment has been incredibly mixed. Today, UBS issued a bearish note, saying the "odds remain stacked against RIM," as it maintained a $9.50 (U.S.) price target and "neutral" rating.
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. reported adjusted earnings of $1.28 per share, up from $1.11 a year earlier, and in line with analysts' estimates. Shares opened up 1.4 per cent.
Ford Motor Co. reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of 31 cents, beating Street forecasts of 25 cents. Revenues also were ahead of forecasts. But the automaker also forecast a wider loss in its European division, and shares opened down 3 per cent.
Pfizer Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of 47 cents, 3 cents better than forecasts, with revenues also ahead of the Street view. It also forecast profit for the year higher than analysts' predictions. Shares opened up 1.2 per cent.
Yahoo Inc. late Monday reported a drop in fourth-quarter earnings that nevertheless beat analysts' forecasts and sales were a bit better than expected. Shares opened up 1.5 per cent.
D.R. Horton Inc, the biggest U.S. home builder, said net income more than doubled due to higher selling prices, and reported a 39 per cent jump in orders. Shares open up nearly 6 per cent.
Harley-Davidson Inc reported fourth-quarter net income slightly below Wall Street estimates. Shares opened up 1 per cent.
Eli Lilly And Co. said adjusted fourth-quarter earnings were 85 cents per share, beating Street forecasts of 78 cents. Shares opened up 1 per cent.