April 17, 2007 / 4:58 PM / 13 years ago

Blue chips rise on earnings, Dow record eyed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow industrials rose to within striking distance of an intraday record on Tuesday, lifted by solid profits at companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and data showing tamer core inflation in March.

The Nasdaq was near flat, with results expected this week from some major technology companies.

Shares of Coca-Cola rose 3.5 percent, while those of health-care company Johnson & Johnson, which also posted stronger-than-expected earnings, were up 3.2 percent. Both stocks led advances in the Dow and the S&P 500.

The Labor Department said the core Consumer Price Index, excluding food and energy, rose at a muted pace last month.

“We’ve got a couple of good economic data points, and you’ve got some decent earnings. By and large, results seem to be coming in fairly decently,” said Todd Clark, director of stock trading at Nollenberger Capital Partners in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 55.91 points, or 0.44 percent, at 12,776.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 3.28 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,471.75. But the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.56 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,516.77.

The gains pushed the Dow closer to its lifetime intraday high of 12,795.93 set February 20 — a week before a global sell-off hit equities. The Dow average briefly rose above its record close of 12,786.64, also set on February 20.

Stronger-than-expected housing starts and building permits data, released before the opening bell, eased concerns about the extent of a housing slowdown, though another report showed U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell in March.

Shares of Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, rose 3.5 percent to $52.05, while Johnson & Johnson’s stock gained 3.2 percent to $65.04.

Other earnings due on Tuesday include Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp., both Dow components and due after the market’s close. Intel was up 1 percent at $20.91 on the Nasdaq and IBM rose 0.5 percent to $96.70 on the NYSE. Results from eBay Inc., down 0.2 percent at $35.02, Motorola Inc., up 0.7 percent at $17.95, and Google Inc., up 0.01 percent at $474.30, also are expected this week.

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