Stocks Creep Higher Ahead of Earnings

Stocks edged higher Tuesday as investors turned cautious ahead of third-quarter earnings reports.

And with good reason. After the close, Alcoa missed estimates and Legg Mason warned. Wednesday will see the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes, Thursday the Fed’s Beige Book summary of economic conditions, and Friday GE’s earnings report.

Technology earnings reports will begin in earnest next week, with IBM , Intel and Yahoo reporting on Oct. 17, and eBay and Google reporting on the 18th and 19th, respectively.

Google lost ground in Tuesday’s trading session, slipping half a percent on its $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube.

VocalTec soared 44% on a deal with IBM

24/7 surged 15% on an RBC upgrade.

Parametric and Perficient gained ground after raising guidance, while Ciena fell on in-line guidance and InFocus slumped on a warning.

Hawkish comments from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher also added to the cautious tone on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq added 3 to 2315, the S&P 500 rose 2 to 1353, and the Dow added 9 to 11,867. Volume rose to 2.45 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.82 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 17-14 on the NYSE, and 15-14 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 62% on the NYSE, and 57% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 219-15 on the NYSE, and 172-55 on the Nasdaq.

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