The Dow rose on Tuesday as investors scooped up defensive shares, including Pfizer
But the S&P was little changed and the Nasdaq fell as financial and technology shares declined after leading the recent rally from bear market lows.
Shares of Pfizer posted the biggest percentage gain in the Dow, rising 5.5 percent to $14.93, after positive comments from analysts at Credit Suisse First Boston following a meeting with the drug company's management.
Energy shares also supported the market as U.S. crude oil futures briefly touched $60 a barrel before settling up 35 cents at $58.85 on hopes an economic recovery may bolster fuel demand. Exxon Mobil Corp
But worries over whether an apparent lack of incentives to drive the market higher would put an end to the rally helped put a cap on gains.
We're right at the precipice and people can't decide if the rally's still got room left or if we're priced about right and due for a sell-off, said Warren Simpson, managing director at Stephens Capital Management in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The safe-haven mantra is back in force a bit today because obviously, we're not out of the woods yet.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 50.34 points, or 0.60 percent, to 8,469.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was off 0.89 points, or 0.10 percent, to 908.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 15.32 points, or 0.88 percent, at 1,715.92.
INTEL GAINS ON CEO'S COMMENTS
Shares of chipmaker Intel Corp
In addition to Pfizer's advance during the regular session, the shares of rival drugmaker and fellow Dow component Merck
An analyst's note suggested that Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, would likely increase its dividend payment after it completes the acquisition of smaller rival Wyeth
The broad S&P 500 is up 34.3 percent from the March low, spurred by optimism that the financial sector and economy are showing signs of stabilization. The index closed above 900 after having briefly fallen below the key support level during the session.
In economic news, data showed the U.S. trade gap widened in March for the first time in eight months, signaling weak overseas demand.
MIXED VIEWS OF STOCK OFFERINGS
On the downside, shares of Ford
Investors worried that the new offerings were dilutive to existing shareholders as companies tried to raise cash to stay afloat, but others noted the ability to attract capital was a positive sign.
The KBW Bank Index <.BKX> dropped 4.2 percent, but is still more than double its March 9 closing level. Bank of America
Big-cap technology companies weighed on the Nasdaq, including Apple Inc
Trading was active on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.61 billion shares changing hands, above last year's estimated daily average of 1.49 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 2.53 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,744 to 1,270 while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers by 1,747 to 975.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)