The market’s gains were held in check by a slump in energy stocks and Hewlett-Packard’s 13 percent plunge. In a meeting with analysts and investors, Meg Whitman, H-P’s CEO, predicted weak earnings and sales for the foreseeable future.
The Dow Jones rose 12.25 points to close at 13,494.61. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 5.24 points to 1,450.99.
“The price action today seems boring, but the economic data is pretty strong,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index of service companies, which includes everything from financial firms to clothing stores, rose in September to the highest level since March. The index reached 55.1. Economists had estimated it would drop to 53.4.
But concerns over an economic slowdown in Europe, China and the U.S. helped push the price of crude oil down $3.75 to $88.14 a barrel. Energy stocks fell sharply as a result. After H-P, Chevron had the worst loss in the Dow, giving up $1.82 to $116.14.