U.S. stocks wobbled Tuesday and ended the day mixed even as automakers reported improved auto sales and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway said it would buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.  Traders were reluctant to place big bets as they awaited the outcome of a two-day FOMC meeting which got underway Tuesday and Friday’s monthly jobs report.  Although expectations are the Fed would keep interest rates in the 0-0.25% range, Wall Street has been speculating if there would be a change of tone in the policy statement. 

On Tuesday, the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average closed down 17.53 points, or 0.18%, to 9,771.91.  The broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 2.53 points, or 0.24%, to 1,045.41 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 8.12 points, or 0.40%, to 2,057.32.  On the NYSE, volume slowed to 1.38 billion shares.  

The news of a sale of 200 tons of gold to India sent gold futures surging $32.10 to $1086.  Treasury prices declined with the 10-year off 16/32 to 101-08/32 and the corresponding yield surging to 3.47% from 3.41% Monday.      

Burlington Northern (NYSE:BNI) surged 28% to $97 after the $26 billion offer from Berkshire.  Technology stocks were under pressure following a Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analyst downgrade of semiconductor companies. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), the world’s biggest computer-chip maker, fell 2.7% to $18.50 and Novellus Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:NVLS) declined 5.2% to $19.71.  Shares in basic materials, oil and gas and industrials rose 1.8%, 1.5%, and 1.3%, respectively in yesterday’s trade.  Meanwhile, automakers reported October sales numbers mostly higher from a year ago.  General Motors (NYSE:GM) posted its first y/y sales gain, in nearly two years, as its sales rose 5%; Ford (NYSE:F) said its sales rose 3%; Toyota (NYSE:TM) sales, although flat, were ahead of estimates of a 6% decline.  Chrysler sales fell 30%.

Nevertheless, corporate earnings so far have continued to beat Wall Street estimates, with 84% of the S&P500’s 358 firms reported so far currently beating Street estimates.  Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is currently trading 55% above its 12-year low hit on March 9. 

Today’s earnings calendar includes quarterly reports from the following: Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), News Corp. (NYSE:NWS), Prudential (NYSE:PRU), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN), and Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX).

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