Stocks Finished Mixed, Tech Down

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher Wednesday, coming back from moderate losses in the last hour, though the Nasdaq Composite ended lower after disappointing results from Oracle Corp.  weighed on tech stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average  ended up 4.16 points, or 0.03%, to 12,107.74 after losing more than 100 points midday. The S&P 500 ended up 2.42 points, or 0.19%, to 1,243.72. The Nasdaq Composite lost 25.76 points, or 0.99%, to 2,577.97.

Big losses from Oracle Corp. reverberated through the technology sector Wednesday as investors reacted negatively to the software giant’s disappointing earnings report. For the second quarter ended Nov. 30, Oracle earned $2.19 billion, or 43 cents a share, on revenue of $8.79 billion, compared $1.87 billion, or 37 cents, earned on revenue of $8.58 billion for the same period a year ago.

Bed Bath & Beyond on Wednesday reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $228.5 million, or 95 cents a share, up from $188.6 million, or 74 cents a share, in the same 2010 period. Sales rose 6.8% to $2.34 billion. Comparable store sales increased 4.1%, compared with a 7% gain in last year’s same period.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America Corp. over alleged discriminatory lending practices by its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit during the build up to the financial crisis of 2008.

Crude-oil futures closed higher Wednesday, with a bigger-than-expected drop of nearly 11 million barrels in last week’s U.S. crude supplies sending prices up for a third session in a row. On its first full trading day as a front-month contract, light sweet crude for February delivery  rose $1.43, or 1.5%, to settle at $98.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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