Stocks advance in early trading Tuesday

STEVE ROTHWELL AP Markets Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were mostly higher in early trading Tuesday as investors assessed the latest round of company earnings. Materials companies rose, led by gains in Dow Chemical and aluminum maker Alcoa.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed six points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,844 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,446. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,224.

MATERIAL GAINS: Dow Chemical surged $2.33, or 5.4 percent, to $46.70 after hedge fund Third Point said it has taken a stake in the company and wants it to spin off its petrochemicals division. Alcoa climbed 84 cents, or 7.4 percent, to $12.19 after analysts at JPMorgan raised their price target for the stock, predicting Alcoa will benefit from tightening aluminum markets.

ECONOMY LIGHT: Company earnings will likely be the main focus for investors this week. There are no major economic releases scheduled for Tuesday and the Federal Reserve's next policy meeting won't start until next week.

MORE CUTS COMING: Fed policymakers will further reduce their economic stimulus after the meeting, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited interviews with central bank officials and their most recent speeches. The Fed in December reduced its monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion. The stimulus has kept long-term interest rates low and helped underpin a rally in stocks.

GAINING ALTITUDE: Delta increased $1.12, or 3.6 percent, to $32.20 after reporting a better-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter as fares and traffic rose. The airline's president said demand was strong, and forecast that profit margins would increase in the current quarter.

TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.83 percent from 2.82 percent on Friday. U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The price of oil edged up 33 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $94.87 a barrel. Gold fell $13.30, or 1.1 percent, to $1,238 an ounce.