NEW YORK - U.S. stock prices were mixed, held in check by a warning from the huge package delivery company FedEx that its profits would be hurt because of a slowdown in the global economy.
FedEx cited weakness in its express package delivery business. That's a sign that FedEx's customers around the world are choosing slower, cheaper delivery options to save money. FedEx's stock fell $1.74 to $85.80.
"It's one more piece of news that suggests that the global economy is slowing and therefore makes central bank action more likely," said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at the investment advisory firm Cetera Financial.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the central bank is inclined to provide new stimulus to the U.S. economy if it's needed. Investors will get more guidance Friday when the government releases its monthly report on employment, which is an important barometer for the world's largest economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 11.54 points at 13,047.48 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.50 points to 1,403.44. The Nasdaq composite index lost 5.79 points to 3,069.27.
Earlier, the Labor Department reported that U.S. companies got more productivity from their workers this spring than originally estimated. Productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the April-June quarter, up from an initial estimate of a 1.6 percent gain. Labor costs rose at an annual rate of 1.5 percent, slightly lower than the 1.7 percent initially estimated.
Stock indexes were mostly higher in Europe and the yields on government bonds issued by Spain and Italy moved lower, a positive sign that investors are becoming more optimistic about the ability of those countries to repay their debts.