By STEVE ROTHWELLAP Markets Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - The Dow Jones industrial average held above 15,000 a day after it closed above the landmark level for the first time.
On Wednesday, a day without any major economic releases, investors focused on company earnings as reporting for the first quarter draws to a close. Although earnings growth has slowed from last quarter, profits are at record levels and projected to rise throughout the year.
Internet company AOL plunged as its subscription revenues fell and freight transporter CH. Robinson Worldwide dropped after it said its profit margins were being squeezed. On the positive side, high-end grocer Whole Foods and the video game publisher Electronic Arts rose sharply after predicting full-year profits that were higher than analysts were expecting.
Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, predicted more gains in the short term for the market but said a pullback was likely at some point as the rise in prices begins to overstate the improvement in the outlook for the economy.
"We're still going to keep grinding higher," says Wren. "I do think the market is ahead of itself."
Stocks have also defied expectations that a sell-off would follow the spring surge as signs emerged that growth could be set for a slowdown. Both the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 index have gained every month of the year and are trading at record highs.
AOL plunged $3.95, or 9.6 percent, to $37.46 after the company reported earnings that fell short of the forecasts of Wall Street analysts who follow the stock. Subscription revenue fell 9 percent.
Freight transporter C.H. Robinson Worldwide fell $4.45, or 7.4 percent, to $57.01 after the company reported earnings that fell short of analysts' expectations. The company said its profit margins were being squeezed. Analysts at Citigroup cut their earnings forecast and price target for the stock,
The Dow was up 14 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,070 as of 12:24 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The S&P 500 index was five points higher, or 0.3 percent, at 1,631. The Nasdaq composite gained 13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,410.
Financial analysts predict that earnings for S&P 500 companies will end up rising 5.1 percent versus the same period a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ. Although that's slower growth than the 7.7 percent growth of the previous quarter, earnings growth is expected to reach 12 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.
Whole Foods rose $10.04, or 11 percent, to $102.8 after the natural foods store chain said its fiscal second-quarter net income rose 20 percent. The company also raised its profit forecast for the full year.
Electronic Arts, which makes the Madden Football games and SimCity, jumped $2.85, or 15.4 percent, to $21.28 after it projected profits for the current fiscal year that were higher than analysts were expecting.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 1.77 percent. The yield has climbed from 1.63, its lowest of the year, last week after the government reported Friday that hiring
In commodities trading, the price of crude oil rose 37 cents, or $96 a barrel and gold rose $14.50, or 1 percent, to $1,463.10 an ounce.
The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
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