Japan's two biggest airlines grounded all their Boeing 787s for safety checks Wednesday after one was forced to make an emergency landing. The plane, known as the Dreamliner, has been plagued by a series of problems this year, including a battery fire and fuel leaks. Boeing's stock sank $2.60 to $74.34, a loss of 3 percent.
The Dow lost 23.66 points to close at 13,511.23. Without Boeing's drop, the Dow would have ended the day nearly flat.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 0.29 to 1,472.63. A gain in Apple helped pull the Nasdaq composite up 6.77 points to 3,117.54.
Apple rose $20.17 to $506.09, ending a three-day slide. The world's largest publicly traded company closed below $500 on Tuesday for the first time in nearly a year. Concerns that the popularity of its iPhone is waning have pushed Apple's stock down 5 percent this month.
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, the country's largest bank, rose after both posted quarterly results that trounced analysts' estimates.
Harry Clark, chairman of Clark Capital Management Group in Philadelphia, described JPMorgan's numbers as staggering. The bank's quarterly earnings jumped 55 percent and total revenue for the year hit $100 billion.
"Their earnings are just ridiculously good," Clark said. "It shows you that these giants can make money in any type of environment."
Slightly smaller financial firms, such as Northern Trust and Bank of New York Mellon, reported weaker earnings and their stocks sank.
JPMorgan Chase gained 47 cents to $46.82. The bank's stunning results were offset by an internal review of a $6 billion trading loss on credit derivatives. JPMorgan's board of directors criticized executives for failing to keep the board informed of potential problems and using unapproved models for measuring trading risks.
Goldman Sachs gained $5.50 to $141.09, a 4 percent jump. The investment bank's profits nearly tripled in the fourth quarter of last year. Goldman's bond underwriting business had its best year since the financial crisis, thanks to strong demand for fixed-income investments and companies lining up to borrow at historically cheap rates.
Analysts forecast that companies in the S&P 500 will report a 3.2 percent increase in fourth-quarter earnings. Financial firms and consumer-discretionary companies are expected to post the biggest growth, according to S&P Capital IQ.
The Labor Department said consumer prices were flat last month as gas prices sank. The December reading of the consumer price index capped a year of tame inflation. Consumer prices increased just 1.7 percent in 2012, down from 3 percent in 2011.
The report led traders to push up prices for Treasurys, knocking yields down. The 10-year Treasury note's yield slipped to 1.82 percent. The yield, used to set mortgages and a wide variety of other loans, ended Tuesday at 1.84 percent.
Among other companies making news:
-- Wendy's rose 4 percent, or 18 cents, to $5.08. The hamburger chain, known for its Frosty shakes and square burgers, earnings topped Wall Street's estimates, even as a key indicator of sales at North American restaurants dipped slightly.
-- Chipotle Mexican Grill dropped 6 percent. The burrito chain warned that its quarterly earnings would fall short of previous forecasts because it underestimated the hit it would take from higher food costs. Chipotle's stock lost $16.38 to $280.94.
-- Genworth Financial jumped 9 percent, the largest gain in the S&P 500. The financial services company laid out a plan to reorganize its business, including putting its mortgage unit under a new company. Genworth's stock gained 72 cents to $8.85.
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