NEW YORK The Dow dipped while the S&P 500 edged up on Wednesday as a sharp drop in durable goods orders last month added to worries about slower U.S. economic activity and Apple's (AAPL.O) results disappointed investors.
Shares of Amgen (AMGN.O) dropped 6 percent to $106.03, weighing on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 a day after the drug company reported first-quarter sales below analysts' expectations. The S&P 500 healthcare sector index fell 1.2 percent and was the worst performer among the S&P's 10 sectors.
Helping to limit losses, Boeing (BA.N) jumped 3.4 percent to $91.13 and gave the biggest support to the Dow after the aerospace company reported earnings that beat expectations. Boeing shares rallied despite concerns about the company's 787 Dreamliner.
The market's mixed day followed gains so far this week. The S&P 500 is still up 10.8 percent for the year despite a fairly weak month so far.
Adding to market weakness, March U.S. durable goods orders slid 5.7 percent in March, the government said, marking the biggest decline in seven months. The March drop was slightly more than twice the 2.8 percent decline forecast by economists polled by Reuters.
"That doesn't surprise me a whole lot. People are maybe starting to feel the pinch of the payroll tax that took effect in January," said Bryant Evans, portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management, in Champaign, Illinois.
Evans said it's more evidence of slow economic growth in the United States, which may likely continue the rest of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 21.33 points, or 0.14 percent, at 14,698.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.60 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,580.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.25 of a point, or 0.01 percent, at 3,269.58.
Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N), another Dow component, fell 4.8 percent to $78 after the biggest U.S. household goods manufacturer issued a profit outlook that was below expectations. It was the stock's biggest drop since January 2009, and contributed to a 1.1 percent drop in the S&P consumer staples index.
Defensive shares, however, have led the S&P 500 index's gains so far this year, which has underscored views that economic activity remains painfully slow.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry and Jan Paschal)