(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a flat note as a set of downbeat economic readings from Europe and some negative corporate news weighed on the sentiment.
S&P 500 Index inched up 0.06 percent to finish at 1,402.21. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.05 percent to end at 13,175.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.15 percent to close at 3,011.25.
Also weighing on the negative sentiment were the comments by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher, who argued against additional monetary stimulus. In an interview to Bloomberg, Fisher said the central bank has done enough easing and just doing more does not solve the problem.
In European news, the Bank of England now expects growth of around 2 percent at the end of 2013, down from 2.6 percent growth forecasted earlier. A report released by the German Federal Statistical Office showed that German exports declined 1.5 percent in June following a 4.2 percent gain in May, versus expectations of a 1.3 percent fall. Meanwhile, ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook on Greece's credit rating to "negative" from "stable".
On the domestic economic front, nonfarm business sector labor productivity advanced at a 1.6 percent rate for the second quarter, versus economists expectations of a 1.3 percent rise and a 0.5 percent decline in the first quarter. The Labor Department also reported that unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses grew 1.7 percent, sharply up from estimation of a rise of 0.6 percent.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: PCLN, DF, HPQ, CSC, ESRX, MCD, M, WCRX, IFF, CBB
In corporate news, Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) tumbled 17.28 percent after the Norwalk, Connecticut-based provider of online travel services guided third-quarter below market expectations, saying macro-economic conditions and a strong dollar have put pressure on top-line growth rates.
Dean Foods Co. (NYSE:DF) surged 40.58 percent after the Dallas, Texas-based maker of dairy products boosted its earnings forecast and said its WhiteWave unit filed for an initial public offering to raise $300 million.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ) rose 2.37 percent after the PC maker increased its third-quarter earnings outlook. The Palo Alto, California-based company also announced new appointments at its enterprises business that accounts for 16 percent of HP's revenue.
McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD) dropped 1.66 percent after the Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast food giant reported flat global comparable sales for the month of July. Sales declined at all of the company's major segments amid tough economic environment.
Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE:CSC) added 15.71 percent after the Falls Church, Virginia-based provider of information technology (IT) services posted first-quarter results that topped market expectations.
Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ:ESRX) jumped 8.41 percent after the St. Louis, Missouri-based provider of pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services raised its full-year earnings forecast following better-than-expected quarterly results.
Warner Chilcott Plc (NASDAQ:WCRX) shed 6.92 percent after the Dublin-based drugmaker said it has terminated talks over a potential sale of the company. Warner plans to incur $600 million of new debt that will be used to fund a special dividend of $4.00 per share, or around $1.0 billion.
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE:IFF) jumped 9.71 percent after the New York-based company reported double-digit earnings growth for the second quarter on expansion in margins.
Macy's Inc. (NYSE:M) added 2.73 percent after the Cincinnati, Ohio-based operator of Bloomingdale's Outlet stores boosted its earnings guidance following higher quarterly profit and sales.
Cincinnati Bell Inc. (NYSE:CBB) gained 5.35 percent after the communications services company's data center business CyrusOne filed for an initial public offering.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX closing 0.03 percent lower at 6,966.15. France's CAC40 declined 0.43 percent to finish at 3,438.26. U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.08 percent to end at 5,845.92.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 0.16 percent to finish at 2,160.99. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.88 percent to end at 8,881.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.04 percent to end at 20,065.52. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,600.56, down 0.01 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures slipped 0.35 percent to $93.340 per barrel and natural gas futures lost 0.91 percent to $2.937 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.20 percent to $1,616.1 per ounce while silver futures dropped 0.18 percent to $28.035 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro shed 0.32 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2359. The British pound gained 0.20 percent against the greenback to 1.5653, while the dollar declined 0.18 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.4600.