US stocks close flat after choppy day of trading

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks closed fairly flat Wednesday after a choppy day of trading, with some positive earnings reports providing support.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.22 points (0.05 per cent) to 13,986.52.

The S&P 500 rose 0.83 (0.05 per cent) to 1,512.12, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.10 (0.10 per cent) to 3,168.48.

After opening lower, stocks recovered thanks to a string of earnings reports, which is "helping foster some of the resiliency," said Charles Schwab & Co in a note.

Investors gave mixed reviews to acquisitions.

Both Liberty Global and Virgin Media dropped following the announcement that Liberty would acquire Virgin for US$16 billion, in a deal that values Virgin at US$23.3 billion. Liberty fell 2.7 per cent while Virgin, which surged Tuesday on expectations of the announcement, lost 1.6 per cent.

Biotechnology company Biogen Idec jumped 2.3 per cent on news that it bought Irish partner Elan's stake in multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri for US$3.25 billion.

Dow component Walt Disney Company rose 0.4 per cent after reporting earnings that bested expectations and announcing that it plans additional offerings in the popular Star Wars film series.

Time Warner picked up 4.1 per cent after earnings were better than expected and the company announced plans to raise its dividend.

But CVS Caremark closed 0.9 per cent lower despite topping estimates and raising its full-year profit outlook.

National Oilwell Varco closed lower for the fourth session in a row, this time falling by 2.4 per cent. Some analysts have said the oil services company is fully valued and seems headed for a retreat.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 1.97 per cent from 2.02 per cent late Tuesday. The yield on the 30-year Treasury dropped to 3.18 per cent from 3.22 per cent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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