The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) ended flat, but the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 3 points and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 21.
The Nasdaq was led by Apple (AAPL), which jumped more than 8 percent after posting better than expected earnings, declaring a big stock split and buying back another $30 billion in stock.
Facebook (FB) was slightly lower even though earnings tripled from a year ago, on strong advertising revenue. Facebook shareholders have nothing to complain about. Over the past year, the stock has soared more than 130 percent.
Caterpillar (CAT) was one of the best performers on the Dow 30. It gained 2 percent as earnings easily beat expectations and the company raised its outlook for the year. But that was offset by Verizon (VZ), which fell 2.5 percent, as earnings come in a bit short. 3M (MMM), meanwhile, fell 1 percent. Its earnings were slightly below expectations.
Also on the earnings scorecard:
- United Continental Holdings (UAL) slid 10 percent after posting a big loss.
- General Motors (GM) fell by less than 1 percent. Earnings were solid, but revenue was weak.
- It was the same story for Qualcomm (QCOM). It fell 3.5 percent, as net beat the Street, but revenue fell short.
Elsewhere, Zimmer Holdings (ZMH) -- known for its artificial knees and hips -- rose 11 percent after agreeing to buy privately owned Biomet. And Elizabeth Arden (RDEN) jumped for a second day in a row, up 13 percent today on a report it hired Goldman Sachs to advise it about a potential bid to be acquired.
What to Watch Friday:
- The University of Michigan releases its final survey of consumer sentiment for April at 10 a.m. Eastern time.