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Stocks edge higher in choppy trading as companies report better earnings; Apple gains

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NEW YORK — Stocks are finishing slightly higher, led by the technology sector after Apple reported a big earnings gain.

Apple also announced a stock split, a dividend increase and a larger share repurchase program. The stock gained 8 percent. Caterpillar also rose 2 percent after posting better-than-expected results.

PHOTO: Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, April 24, 2014. Mixed earnings from a large number of U.S. companies left the stock market without direction early Thursday, despite positive results from a handful of names including Apple and Caterpillar. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, April 24, 2014. Mixed earnings from a large number of U.S. companies left the stock market without direction early Thursday, despite positive results from a handful of names including Apple and Caterpillar. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

3M was among those companies whose results disappointed investors. 3M finished down 1 percent. Defense contractor Raytheon also fell 4 percent after its results fell short of forecasts.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 1,878 Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was unchanged at 16,501. The Nasdaq composite rose 21 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,148.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was flat at 2.70 percent.

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