U.S. stocks edged higher on Tuesday as a dip in Treasury bond yields tempered investors' interest-rate worries and boosted financial stocks.
One big mover in an otherwise lackluster session was General Electric Co., as shares of the No. 2 U.S. company by market capitalization tackled a key technical level, triggering further gains.
However, gains were tempered by weaker-than-expected earnings from electronics retailer Best Buy, which raised concerns about the health of consumer spending.
The 10-year yield below 5.10 (percent), that helps the market. But we may be in for a bit of a quiet period. The volume's just not there, said Victor Pugliese, director of listed equity trading at First Albany Corp. in San Francisco.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 22.44 points, or 0.16 percent, at 13,635.42. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.65 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,533.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.16 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,626.76.
The yield on the U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury note declined to 5.08 percent, its lowest in more than a week. Last week, yields rose to five-year highs, fanning concerns that higher interest rates would hurt corporate takeovers and slow growth.
Rate-sensitive financial shares, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., were some of the session's biggest advancers as bond yields receded.
Bank of America shares rose 1.3 percent to $50.55 and JPMorgan stock gained 0.8 percent to $50.85.
General Electric shares rose 3.2 percent to $39.29 on the New York Stock Exchange and ranked as the biggest gainer in both the Dow and the S&P 500. GE touched as high as $39.60 earlier in the session, its biggest move upward in 3-1/2 years.
GE's gains followed news that the company's energy unit will pay $603 million for a controlling stake in Regency Energy Partners LP, an owner of natural gas pipelines and processing equipment.
On the downside, Best Buy Co. Inc. reported disappointing quarterly results that raised doubts about the U.S. economy's overall health and the outlook for consumer spending.
Best Buy shares fell 5.9 percent to $45.18. Shares of rival electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc. shed 2.8 percent to $16.07 on the NYSE.
The semiconductor sector slipped after Microchip Technology Inc. late on Monday cut its first-quarter earnings forecast, citing weakness in the European market and pricing pressure for its EE memory chip business.
Microchip Technology shares tumbled 9 percent to $37.91 on the Nasdaq. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index dropped 0.5 percent.
A ruling in favor of drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., eased investor worries about patent protection for big pharmaceutical companies and sent shares of Bristol-Myers up 4.2 percent to $31.58 on the NYSE.
Trading was moderate on the NYSE, with about 1.46 billion shares changing hands, below last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.9 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 10 to 7 on the NYSE and by 8 to 7 on Nasdaq.