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Better-than-expected earnings from United Technologies guided the Dow Jones a green finish on Tuesday. But weakness in technology shares dragged the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq into negative territory. In the absence of any major domestic reports, benchmarks were oscillating between small gains and losses. On the international front, consumer confidence in the Euro Zone was recorded close to a two-year high for the month of July. The materials sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups. Technology shares were the worst performers.         

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article.    

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.1% to close the day at 15,567.74. The S&P 500 fell 0.2% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,692.39. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.6% to end at 3,579.27. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) jumped 3.1% to settle at 12.54. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.6 billion shares, below 2013’s average of 6.4 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For the 55% that advanced, 42% declined.

Recently, encouraging earnings from major banks, health insurers and other companies have acted as a catalyst for the markets. But yesterday, the Street received mixed earnings reports. The S&P 500 finished in the red after four consecutive days of gains.  In the absence of major economic reports this week, investors will focus on the earnings. 

Shares of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) gained nearly 3% after the company posted its second quarter results. The company’s earnings came in above the Street’s estimates. Earnings jumped 17% in the second quarter, boosted by an increase in orders for commercial airline parts and elevators. The company has pushed up the lower end of this year earnings estimate. It is now expecting earnings per share in the range of $6 to $6.15 from the previous estimate of $5.85 to $6.15 per share for the year 2013. United Technologies Chairman and Chief Executive Louis Chenevert said: “Strong execution, additional restructuring savings, and growing backlogs give us confidence to increase the lower end of our earnings per share range.”

E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) posted second quarter results yesterday. The company’s earnings came in marginally above analysts’ expectations. Profits declined nearly 12% in the second quarter. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) reported second quarter earnings after the close of markets on Monday, which beat the Street’s estimates. Shares declined more than 4% as the company added lower-than-expected fresh customers for its streaming service.

On the international front, consumer confidence in the Euro Zone touched a near two-year high. According to the European Commission, consumer confidence climbed to -17.4 in July from the previous month’s figure of -18.8. In the entire European Union, consumer confidence jumped to -14.8 in July from -17.5 in June.

Technology bellwether Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was scheduled to report earnings after the close of markets on Tuesday. Investors were apprehensive ahead of Apple’s earnings report. The company shares declined 1.7% yesterday. The technology sector was the worst performance and the Technology SPDR (XLK) lost 0.4%. Stocks such as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) lost 0.8%, 0.6%, 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

The materials sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Materials Select Sector (XLB) gained 0.3%. Stocks such as Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD), Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL), Airgas, Inc. (NYSE:ARG) and Celanese Corporation (NYSE:CE) gained 2.8%, 0.5%, 1.2% and 1.6%, respectively.

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