NEW YORK – Wall Street rose modestly on Thursday after the S&P 500's worst five-day stretch since May, but economic figures and corporate results were not strong enough to inspire heavy buying.
The broad S&P 500 failed to recoup most of its losses from its 3.6 percent decline over the last five sessions.
Procter & Gamble shares gained 2.7 percent to $69.92 after the multinational household products manufacturer reported a better-than-expected profit. The Dow component was an outlier, however.
With about 244 companies in the S&P 500 reporting results so far, 62.3 percent have beaten expectations, a slight improvement on the typical 62 percent average, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Revenue, on the other hand, remains disappointing, with just 36.3 percent of companies reporting higher-than-expected revenue - compared with a historic beat rate of 62 percent.
"We had 50-some companies report today, and it's all a continuation of companies beating on earnings, but coming in lower on revenue," said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Colgate-Palmolive shares fell 2 percent to $104.41 after the toothpaste and household products manufacturer unveiled a cost-cutting plan that involved shedding 6 percent of its workforce by the end of 2016.
U.S. durable goods orders rose more than expected in September, though orders excluding volatile defense goods and aircraft were unchanged and business investment showed signs of stalling.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.30 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,086.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 3.37 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,412.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.73 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,987.43.
Tech bellwether Apple is scheduled to report earnings after the close. The iPad and iPhone maker is expected to report quarterly earnings of $8.75 a share, according to Thomson Reuters data. Apple's stock lost 0.9 percent to $611.50 ahead of the results.
Big-picture uncertainty has also had a quiet dampening effect on stock prices as the countdown to the U.S. presidential election and the impending fiscal cliff begins in earnest.
"Certainly, the fiscal cliff continues to weigh on the market. If it weren't for that pressure, we'd probably be higher," Morris said.
(Reporting by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jan Paschal)