* Mosaic, Potash Corp sink after Russia quits top potash
* Facebook shares climb 6.2 pct to near IPO price of $38
* Pfizer's stock up after slightly better-than-expected
* Sprint posts wider loss, but revenue rises; stock up 7.3
* Dow off 0.01 pct, S&P 500 up 0.04 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, July 30 The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended
higher on Tuesday, lifted by gains in the technology sector,
while potash shares were the day's big losers.
The tech sector index rose 0.7 percent, leading
the S&P 500's advance. Facebook's stock jumped 6.2
percent to close at $37.63, within striking distance of its $38
IPO price. The stock - the most actively traded on Nasdaq - rose
as much as 7 percent to a session high of $37.96. Facebook's
stock has gained 42 percent since the company reported blowout
quarterly results last Wednesday.
Pfizer, a Dow component, gained 0.4 percent to $29.67 after
the largest U.S. drugmaker reported earnings that slightly
exceeded expectations. Cost controls helped Pfizer's bottom
line. The company also has lined up a business split that could
lead to the spinoff of its generics division.
At the same time, Mosaic Co's stock was among the
biggest drags on the S&P 500, sinking 17.3 percent to $43.81
after Russia's Uralkali dismantled one of the world's
largest potash partnerships by pulling out of a venture with its
partner in Belarus, a move it expects will drive global prices
down 25 percent.
The shakeup in the potash sector pushed shares of Intrepid
Potash down 28.6 percent to $13.89. U.S-traded shares of
Potash Corp slid 16.5 percent to $31.63 and Agrium
fell 5.4 percent to $86.50.
Investors also were cautious ahead of the Wednesday
statement from the Federal Reserve, which is expected at the end
of a two-day policy meeting of the Federal Open Market
Committee. Investors will scrutinize the statement for any
additional hints of when the central bank may begin to pare its
$85 billion a month in bond purchases.
"I think the markets are hoping (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke
doesn't rock the boat with comments that are different than he's
given over the last month or so," said Michael Sheldon, chief
market strategist at RDM Financial in Westport, Connecticut.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 1.38 points,
or 0.01 percent, to end at 15,520.59. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index eked out a gain of just 0.63 of a point, or 0.04
percent, to finish at 1,685.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index
rose 17.33 points, or 0.48 percent, to 3,616.47.
Shares of Verizon Communications, down 2.1 percent at
$50.42, were the biggest drag on the Dow.
After the bell, shares of Symantec gained 4.5
percent to $25.45. The company, which makes Norton anti-virus
software, posted better-than-expected quarterly results. An
increase in hacking attacks led businesses to spend more on
Symantec's security and data storage products.
The day's earnings news was mixed overall. Occidental
Petroleum Corp shares fell 2.4 percent to $88.32 after
the company reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit,
hurt by lower oil prices in the Middle East and North
Coach Inc shares dropped 7.9 percent to $53.30 after
the leather goods maker reported soft sales at its North
American stores and disclosed the departures of two more
executives amid a flurry of recent changes in top
In contrast, Goodyear Tire & Rubber's stock stock
rose 8.9 percent to $18.56 after setting a nearly five-year high
of $19.60. The company reported that its quarterly profit more
than doubled, citing lower raw material costs and stabilizing
sales in Europe as major reasons for its jump in net
Mobile service provider Sprint Corp posted a wider
quarterly loss on costs from shutting down its Nextel network,
but revenue grew as customers spent more on wireless services.
Sprint's stock leaped 7.3 percent to $6.16.
More companies continued to beat earnings expectations
compared with revenue forecasts. With results in from 60 percent
of the S&P 500 companies, 67.4 percent have exceeded earnings
expectations - in line with the average beat over the last four
quarters. About 55 percent of companies have topped revenue
expectations, more than the 48 percent of revenue beats in the
past four earnings seasons but below the historical average,
Thomson Reuters data showed.
Volume was roughly 5.89 billion shares traded on the New York
Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, below the average
daily closing volume of about 6.4 billion this year.
Advancers were about even with decliners on the NYSE, with
about 15 stocks rising for every 14 that fell. On the Nasdaq,
about 13 stocks advanced for every 12 that declined.