Wall Street ends mostly flat, Procter, AT&T tumble

NEW YORK Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:51pm EDT

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended flat on Wednesday with Boeing's five-year high among the day's highlights, but weakness in Procter & Gamble and AT&T kept the Dow in negative territory.

Procter & Gamble (PG.N) shares fell 5.8 percent to $77.12 after the world's largest household products maker issued a profit outlook that was below expectations. It was the stock's biggest drop since January 2009, and contributed to a 1.7 percent drop in the S&P consumer staples index .SPLRCS.

AT&T (T.N) reported a net loss of cellphone subscribers in the first quarter as it lost market share, sending its shares down 5 percent to $37.04.

Materials and energy stocks led the S&P 500's gains as copper and oil prices bounced back from recent declines. Commodity gains were capped by worries about the outlook for global economic growth.

A sharp drop in U.S. durable goods orders last month added to that concern, putting a lid on equity gains.

"The flow of news doesn't fully justify the optimism that investors want to bring to the market," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.

"In this environment, it is hard to justify paying this kind of premium for stocks, and it is hard to see the catalyst for strong growth."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 43.16 points or 0.29 percent, to end at 14,676.30. But the S&P 500 .SPX eked out a gain of a mere 0.01 of a point or 0 percent to finish at 1,578.79. And the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added just 0.32 of a point or 0.01 percent to close at 3,269.65.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) led overall gains among S&P 500 components with a 3.8 percent advance to $31.76 after announcing it will unveil its much anticipated next-generation Xbox on May 21.

Boeing (BA.N) jumped 3 percent to $90.83, its highest since December 2007, after the aerospace company reported earnings that beat expectations.

In contrast, shares of Amgen (AMGN.O) dropped 6.9 percent to $104.93, weighing on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 a day after the drug company reported first-quarter sales below analysts' expectations. The S&P 500 healthcare sector index .SPXHC fell 1.7 percent.

The market's mixed day followed gains earlier this week. The S&P 500 is still up 10.7 percent for the year despite a fairly weak month so far.

About 6.3 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, slightly below the daily average so far this year of about 6.4 billion shares.

On the NYSE, advancers outnumbered decliners by a ratio of about 2 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, nearly 14 stocks rose for about every 11 that fell.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)