The Nasdaq fell on Wednesday, weighed down by technology heavyweight Apple's profit miss, but gains in chipmaker Intel and insurer Travelers kept the S&P near the unchanged mark.
Intel Corp climbed 4.6 percent to $24.47 after the chipmaker forecast quarterly revenue above expectations.
Travelers Cos Inc advanced 6.6 percent to $54.85 and was the top boost to the Dow after it said it will ramp up a share buyback dramatically. The KBW insurance index <.KIX> advanced 1 percent.
Apple Inc's revenue and profits came in below estimates for the first time in years on Tuesday as it sold far fewer iPhones than expected. The stock fell 4 percent to $405.25.
Generally speaking the earnings have been pretty much in line with expectations and there wasn't a real strong consensus that they were going to be great. We haven't had any significant blow-ups that have really affected the market to the downside, said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 50.10 points, or 0.43 percent, to 11,627.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 0.99 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,226.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 10.47 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,646.96.
Markets remained subject to violent swings from developments out of Europe ahead of a summit of European Union leaders Sunday. Investors hope the meeting will produce a concrete plan to handle the region's debt crisis.
The S&P 500 has struggled to advance as it approaches the top end of a two-month trading range at around 1,250, having gained 8.6 percent for October.
Obviously if we get something significant and tangible Sunday, that would be enough to push us out of that trading range. To the extent that it is cloudy but not getting worse with regards to Europe, we will be in that range, said Hellwig.
Black-clad demonstrators hurled stones and fire bombs at police in front of the Greek parliament as tens of thousands rallied during a nationwide general strike to coincide with a vote on painful new austerity measures.
Earnings reports continued to roll out, with Morgan Stanley swinging to a quarterly profit as stock trading results proved unexpectedly resilient and wealth management revenue soared. The shares rose 1.4 percent to $16.87.
Economic data showed U.S. consumer prices outside food and energy rose at their slowest pace in six months while groundbreaking on new homes rose at the fastest rate in 1-1/2 years. Stocks barely budged after the data.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)