Earnings, Mergers No Help for Stocks

Solid earnings from the likes of HP and JC Penny and more tech sector mergers couldn’t keep stocks from closing just below the flat line Thursday.

HP ended the day 0.8% lower despite better than expected results and upbeat comments from analysts.

24/7 Media gained on a buyout deal with WPP , while Acxiom soared on a private equity takeover deal.

Mid-Atlantic manufacturing came in stronger than expected and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke downplayed the effect of the housing slump on the economy, but rising oil prices kept stocks from gaining on the good news.

Micron fell 5% on a $1.1 billion convertible offering, while Sun gained 3.5% on a $3 billion stock buyback.

Amazon fell on its digital music plans.

Gerber Scientific jumped on its earnings, while Napster , Salesforce.com , Opnet and Opnext fell on their results.

Online publisher TechTarget had a solid debut, rising 14% from its $13 IPO price.

The Nasdaq lost 8 to 2539, the S&P 500 slipped 1 to 1512, and the Dow lost 10 to 13,476. Volume declined to 2.88 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.02 billion on the Nasdaq. Declining issues led by a 19-12 margin on the NYSE, and 19-11 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 52% on the NYSE, and 53% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 194-43 on the NYSE, and 118-108 on the Nasdaq.

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