The Dow rose on Wednesday after better-than-expected regional factory data added to hopes that the recession is moderating, prompting investors to pick up shares of manufacturers, including United Technologies and 3M Co .

But the Nasdaq fell as a lack of clarity in Intel Corp's revenue forecast highlighted worries that the earnings season will show the corporate outlook remains murky.

Gains in American Express helped the Dow rise after data showed the ability of its cardholders to pay their bills held steady in March. American Express rose 2.1 percent to $18.80.

United Technologies ranked among the Dow's top advancers, up almost 2 percent after a report showed manufacturing activity in New York State contracted less severely in April after tumbling to a record low in March. The New York Federal Reserve Bank's manufacturing data helped to offset profit concerns.

These numbers that we're seeing lately, with the exception of the retail number yesterday, are starting to give some faint indication the economy may be stabilizing, said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co in Nashville.

It's pretty difficult to read into these numbers month by month until you get some sort of trend developing, which may be happening, but it's still too early to tell.

Procter & Gamble
also led the Dow higher, adding 3 percent to $48.66 after the maker of Tide laundry detergent and Crest toothpaste raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 7.41 points, or 0.09 percent, to 7,927.59. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 1.90 points, or 0.23 percent, to 839.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 20.40 points, or 1.25 percent, to 1,605.32.

Intel's stock lost 4.2 percent to $15.34, despite beating quarterly expectations, after the top global chip maker ruled out clear guidance, saying there was still too much market and economic turbulence to give a precise projection for the second quarter.

The S&P 500 is up nearly 25 percent from its bear market closing low on March 9 as it attempts its sixth-straight week of gains, but it's still down about 7 percent for the year.

The rally was spurred by positive comments from some major banks and hopes that the economy was showing signs of stabilization, but those hopes were dented by Tuesday's unexpected drop in retail sales.

Indeed, the New York state manufacturing data contradicted a separate Federal Reserve report showing that industrial output at the nation's factories, mines and refineries dropped 1.5 percent in March.

Among manufacturers, United Tech gained 2.3 percent to $46.59 and manufacturer 3M Co rose 1.1 percent to $53.53.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)