THE S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell yesterday as investors booked profits following the stock market’s recent run-up, while a weaker-than-expected reading on a measure of consumer confidence raised doubts about spending.<br /><br />Technology and consumer discretionary shares fared worse than the broader market as investors sold recent winners. <strong>Baidu’s</strong> disappointing outlook added to the negative tone for tech names. The semiconductor index shed 2.5 per cent.<br /><br />Even so, the Dow Jones industrial average eked out a slim gain after <strong>IBM</strong> raised its share repurchase plan to $9.2bn (£5.5bn) and shares of <strong>Exxon</strong> <strong>Mobil</strong> and <strong>Chevron</strong> rose on the back of <strong>BP’s</strong> strong earnings. <br /><br />The day’s declines marked the third straight day of losses for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14.21 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 9,882.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 3.54 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 1,063.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 25.76 points, or 1.20 per cent, to 2,116.09.<br /><br />Baidu, the Chinese web search company’s stock, down 11.4 percent at $383.66, was the second-worst drag on the Nasdaq, behind <strong>Apple</strong>, which fell 2.5 per cent to $197.37.<br /><br />Shares of <strong>Google</strong>, the world’s leading web search company, declined 1.1 per cent to $548.29, a day after Baidu forecast a sequential decline in fourth-quarter revenue.<br /><br />But <strong>Exxon</strong> <strong>Mobil</strong> shares shot up 2.3 per cent to $74.91, while <strong>Chevron</strong> shares climbed 1.5 per cent to $76.59 following BP’s results. The energy sector also got a boost from a bounce in crude oil prices. US front-month crude ended up 87 cents, or 1.11 per cent, at $79.55 a barrel.<br /><br />After the bell, <strong>Visa</strong>, the world’s largest payment network, posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit, raised its dividend and authorized a stock-buyback plan. Its stock rose 1.3 per cent to $74.86 in after-hours trading. Visa shares ended regular trading at $73.90.<br /><br />On the economic front, the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell to 47.7 in October, weaker than economists had forecast. The data showed consumers were increasingly concerned about job market conditions.