By Jonathan Cheng
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks traded in a tight range on Wednesday, edging down modestly while gold added to its record highs as pressure continued to mount on the dollar.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 10 points, or 0.1% to 10847 in early trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index (SPX) shed 2 points to 1146 and the Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) edged down less than a point to 2379.
Leading the blue-chip index's declines was Cisco Systems (CSC), off 1.1%, after International Business Machines (IBM) purchased a maker of Ethernet switches, putting the two tech giants in more direct competition.
Offsetting Cisco's losses was Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which led Dow gainers with a 2.2% rise, after the company said revenue for the fiscal year would be between $131.5 billion and $133.5 billion -- a range that compared favorably to the consensus forecast of $131.6 billion.
Taken together, tech stocks were a source of relative strength for the market, edging up slightly to make it the strongest sector among the S&P 500. Financial stocks were the weakest, weighed by a 1% drop at J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and a 0.8% slip at Bank of America (BAC).
U.S. stocks had ended higher on Tuesday, as takeover deals and hopes for more Treasury buying by the Federal Reserve helped offset worries over weak consumer-confidence data. The Dow finished up 46 points after reversed an 80-point slide earlier in the session.
Speculation about more monetary easing in the U.S. has pushed the dollar lower in recent days. The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, hit its lowest level in eight months Wednesday morning, while the dollar sank to a two-week low against the yen before bouncing back up to trade at 83.80 yen recently. The move continued the dollar's slide back toward the level it hit two weeks ago, just before Japanese authorities intervened in currency markets.
Concerns about the euro zone's sovereign-debt problems, meantime, kept a lid on the euro's gains. The euro edged up against the dollar, trading at $1.3595 after the European Commission proposed legislation that would strengthen its control over the economic policies of EU member states, including fines for breaching budget rules.
Gold futures hit another high as the dollar weakened, with the yellow metal edging above $1,310 an ounce.
On the corporate front, shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) fell 17% after the firm said the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating its revenue recognition practices.
Oil giant BP PLC (BP) was also back in the headlines as incoming CEO Bob Dudley said he will restructure BP's upstream business and create a new safety division, with the power to audit any part of the company' operations. BP shares rose 2.2%.
Family Dollar Stores (FDO) rose 3.6% after the discounter topped consensus earnings forecast and announced plans to buy back up to $750 million of its shares.
Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) added 1.5% after reports that chairman Barry Diller had resigned his position amid turbulence at the concert promotion giant.
Meanwhile, Nintendo (NTDOY) dropped 10% after the Japanese gaming giant cut its profit and sales outlook, citing the strong yen and weaker-than-expected sales of its video game consoles.
In international markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 index was off 0.2% in recent trading. The Nikkei 225 Average closed up 0.7%, while the Hong Kong market added 1.2%.