Stock indexes flip between gains and losses


NEW YORK — Stock indexes fluctuated in midday trading today as investors tried to predict the Fed’s next move.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 32 points to 15,366 shortly before noon.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up one point to 1,668. The Nasdaq composite rose three points to 3,499.

“There’s no compelling reason for the market to go one way or another today,” said Michael Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments in Minneapolis. “And I think a lot of people are sitting on their hands waiting to see what the Fed says tomorrow.”

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its most recent meeting and Chairman Ben Bernanke will go before Congress to discuss the outlook for the U.S. economy.

Investors are looking for any hints that the Fed will ease back on its multibillion dollar bond-buying program, which has buoyed all major indexes this year.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. rose 2 percent in midday trading. Shareholders of the country’s biggest bank voted to allow CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon to keep both roles, beating back a referendum to split those positions. The bank’s stock gained 90 cents to $53.18.

Home Depot surged 2 percent, the best gain among the 30 stocks in the Dow. The retailer reported an 18 percent increase in income for its first quarter as the housing market continued to recover. Home Depot rose $1.51 to $78.27.

It’s been a healthy quarter for many of the biggest companies with home prices rising and the job market appearing to stabilize.

Seven of every 10 in the S&P 500 have trumped Wall Street expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ. Earnings have climbed 5 percent over the year before.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.95 percent from 1.96 percent late Monday.

In commodities trading, the price of gold fell $22.70 to $1,361.30. Gold has slumped 19 percent this year. Tame inflation, a stronger dollar and a surging stock market have made gold less appealing as an alternative investment.

Among other companies in the news:

— Best Buy dropped 4 percent, after reporting a quarterly loss and sales that fell short of expectations. Its stock lost $1.16 to $25.65.

— TiVo gained 3 percent, or 44 cents, to $13.10. The digital video recording company narrowed its quarterly loss with the help of higher sales from more subscribers.