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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sharp earnings-related falls in AT&T and Procter & Gamble pulled the Dow lower Wednesday while the other main indices closed flat.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 43.16 points (0.29 percent) to 14,676.30.

The broad-based S&P 500 was essentially flat at 1,578.79, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.32 (0.01 percent) to 3,269.65.

Dow component AT&T sank 5 percent after profit margins in both the wireline and wireless businesses came in lower than expected in its first quarter earnings report. Citigroup slashed its recommendation to "neutral" citing slower expected revenue growth in 2013.

Consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble, another Dow member, reported higher quarterly profits, but fell 5.9 percent after revenue figures disappointed. A Morgan Stanley note rued the poor "quality" of the results, citing weak organic sales growth.

Other blue-chip losers included Cisco (down 2.5 percent) and Walmart (down 1.3 percent).

Among those gaining were Alcoa (up 3.6 percent), Microsoft (up 3.8 percent) and General Electric (up 2.1 percent).

Technology giant Apple took an erratic trajectory, rising and falling throughout the day on the heels of its first drop in quarterly earnings in nearly 10 years.

But that was mitigated by plans to double to $100 billion by 2015 the sum it spends on buybacks and dividends.

Apple shares traded between $392.50 and $415.25, before settling at $405.46, down 0.2 percent.

Auto giant Ford dipped 0.2 percent despite reporting stronger profits due to growth in North America. But the company's European division turned in another loss.

Boeing jumped 3 percent after besting analyst expectations by a wide margin. The company said the retrofitting costs of resolving the battery problems on the grounded 787 aircraft would have only a minor impact on financials.

Yum! Brands, the parent of Taco Bell and other fast food franchises, gained 7 percent after net income bested expectations by a wide margin.

Bond prices were unchanged. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held flat at 1.70 percent the same level as Tuesday, while the 30-year bond also remained at 2.89 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130424/p-0