Stocks inched higher on Tuesday as investors bet that quarterly earnings reports, which begin later on Tuesday, would beat estimates and brokerages raised price targets on some of the biggest technology stocks.
Alcoa Inc, the aluminum company and Dow component, was to kick off the reporting season by announcing its results shortly after the market closes. Shares of Alcoa rose 1.1 percent to $38.73 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Technology shares gained after upbeat brokerage actions on Google Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp.
On earnings, we're bracing for slow earnings growth, but I'm sure we will beat that expectation slightly once again, said Steve Goldman, market strategist for Weeden & Co. in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.12 points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,058.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.14 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,554.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 3.64 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,791.01.
Also helping stocks were energy shares, which gained as crude oil prices rebounded.
On the downside, shares of Coca-Cola Co fell 0.7 percent to $57.40 after Deutsche Bank cut its ratings on the soft-drink company, according to theflyonthewall.com.
The Web site also reported Deutsche cut rival PepsiCo Inc, whose stock fell 1.1 percent to $73.07.
On the Nasdaq, Google surged to a record $623.78, up more than 2 percent, after Banc of America Securities raised its price target on Web search company, according to theflyonthewall.com.
Shares of Apple Inc rose 0.4 percent to $168.42 after a brokerage raised its price target. Microsoft gained 1.3 percent to $30.21 after Goldman Sachs raised its 2008 profit targets for the software maker.
Investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's September 18 meeting, hoping for clues on whether more interest rate cuts might be coming.
Exxon Mobil Corp. rose 1 percent to $91.63 as crude oil prices rebounded, advancing 1.04 percent to $79.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Shares of Sprint Nextel Corp dropped 3.1 percent to $17.92 on the NYSE, a day after the No. 3 U.S. wireless service provider cut its annual outlook and said Chief Executive Gary Forsee had stepped down.