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With relatively little economic data or news out of Europe today, the markets largely took a breather as investors instead tried to digest last night's IPO filing from Facebook. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke also got some attention as he answered House Budget Committee questions, addressing the need for fiscal responsibility while not torpedoing the slow economic recovery. Just after 2 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 11 points to 12,705, while the S&P 500 rose 2 points to 1,326.
With all the attention on Facebook, you might have expected tech stocks in the Dow to respond strongly. But for the most part, big tech names were little changed. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) was down just 0.1% after Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) released its fiscal first-quarter earnings, which rose 20%. Qualcomm's outlook for the current quarter was better than analysts expected, pointing to continued strength in the mobile market. Given that Intel is trying to penetrate that market, strength in Qualcomm also points to opportunity for the PC-chip giant.
In earnings news, Merck (NYSE: MRK ) fell 0.8% despite posting better-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter. Revenue didn't grow as much as investors had hoped, and the company sees flat earnings for its 2012 fiscal year.
DuPont fell fractionally as well after rival Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW ) reported a loss, surprising analysts who had expected a profit of $0.30 per share. The company blamed a one-time charge related to a valuation allowance in Brazil that increased its income tax burden. But even excluding extraordinary items, Dow missed earnings estimates.
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