Stocks rise; Mattel, Coke among earnings winners

NEW YORK – Stronger earnings from Mattel, Coca-Cola and other big companies lifted the Standard & Poor’s 500 index on Tuesday for only the fourth day this month.

Mattel jumped 9 percent, more than any other company in the S&P.

The country’s biggest toy maker said net income rose because of better sales of Barbie dolls and lower advertising costs.

Its stock climbed $3.01 to $34.05.

Coca-Cola posted higher income and revenue than Wall Street had expected, because, in part, to booming business overseas. Coke rose $1.21, or 1.6 percent, to $77.69.

The S&P rose 10.03 points to 1,363.67. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 78.33 points to 12,805.54, only its third increase of the month. Concern about corporate earnings and slower economic growth have weighed on the market.

The stock market wavered between gains and losses in morning trading as investors kept an eye on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s first of two days of testimony before Congress.

Bernanke said weaker economic growth probably means unemployment will remain stubbornly high. But he offered no signs that the Fed was ready to take action to bolster growth soon.

“The big question here isn’t whether the Fed will act,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “We know they will. The question is how bad do things have to deteriorate before they act.”

As the earnings season got under way last week, analysts had expected quarterly profits for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to fall 1 percent compared with the year before, according to S&P Capital IQ, the research arm of S&P. That would break a streak of higher earnings that started in the last quarter of 2009.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank, said that when investors are sure that earnings are going to be dismal, it can set the market up for a rally.

Ablin joked that it was similar to how, as a child, he tried to convince his parents his grades were going to be awful.

“That way, anything I brought home was a relief,” he said.