US stocks flat after Apple's earnings fall

US stocks were flat in early trade Wednesday with markets tempered by mixed earnings reports from Apple, AT&T and P&G, and a poor read on durable goods orders in March.

Thirty minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.59 points at 14,718.87.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.57 (0.10 percent) to 1,580.35, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.72 (0.02 percent) to 3,268.61.

The Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders sank 5.7 percent in March, hit in part by the impact of government cutbacks on defense orders.

Apple shares sank, rebounded and then dropped back again as investors weighed in on the firm's first quarterly earnings decline in nearly 10 years.

Although profits and sales growth both slowed sharply, Apple's decision to double to $100 billion what it puts into dividends and share buybacks over the next year pleased investors.

The shares were off 0.44 percent 30 minutes into trade.

AT&T meanwhile lost 6.0 percent after its first quarter report missed revenue forecasts.

Boeing shares gained 3.6 percent after its first quarter earnings showed no substantial impact from the grounding of the 787 fleet due to battery problems, which forced the company to halt deliveries of its new flagship aircraft.

Procter & Gamble shares lost 4.5 percent despite reporting a 6.4 percent gain in net earnings in the quarter to March 31, as organic sales growth disappointed analysts, rising only 3 percent.

Ford reported a 15.4 percent gain in first quarter net earnings on strong North American sales, but the shares edged lower, losing 1.2 percent.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury held flat at 1.70 percent, while the 30-year bond edged up to 2.90 percent from 2.89 percent Tuesday. Bond prices move inversely to yields.