U.S. stocks drift higher on a directionless day; Weak outlooks sink several retailers


FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, file photo, specialist Michael Shearin, foreground center, works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock futures are rising, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street, helped by a report that the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell more than expected. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)


NEW YORK — Stocks are ending mostly higher after drifting between slight gains and losses all day.

Retailers were in the spotlight today. Bed Bath & Beyond and Family Dollar plunged after cutting their earnings forecasts following a disappointing holiday season. Macy’s surged after saying it would cut 2,500 jobs.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 inched up less than a point to finish at 1,838. The index had only its second gain out of the six days of trading in 2014. The index is still just 10 points below the most recent record high it set on Dec. 31.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,444. The Nasdaq composite lost nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,156.

Ford rose 2 percent after announcing a dividend increase.