NEW YORK — A surprisingly strong housing report helped push the stock market mostly higher Wednesday, while weak earnings reports from Intel and IBM weighed on the Dow Jones industrial average.

The Commerce Department said builders broke ground on single-family houses and apartments at the fastest pace since July 2008. Housing starts surged to an annual rate of 872,000 in September, far above estimates by economists.

Over the past year, housing starts have climbed by 43 percent.

The Dow edged up 5.22 to close at 13,557, eking out its fourth straight day of gains. The broader S&P 500 gained 5.99 to 1,460.91. The Nasdaq index inched up 2.95 to 3,104.12.

NEW YORK — While Microsoft is touting next week’s launch of Windows 8 as the savior of the computer industry, PC makers and analysts are increasingly skeptical that the new operating system will lure consumers away from tablets and smartphones.

Even Intel, which makes the processors at the heart of 80 percent of personal computers, doubts that Windows 8 will have a big impact on sales. CEO Paul Otellini said this week that he’s “very excited” about the new operating system, but expects the usual holiday bounce in PC sales to be half of what it usually is.

Research firm IHS iSuppli expects the industry to ship 349 million PCs this year, down 1 percent from last year’s all-time high. Although small, the decline would be the first since 2001.

NEW YORK — For banks, mortgage-making kept profits humming before the financial crisis, then blackened reputations and stamped out earnings when the crisis hit.

Now, the business of mortgage lending is more of a mixed bag.

Charlotte-based Bank of America, the country’s second-biggest bank and one of the largest in the Charleston region, reported Wednesday that mortgage originations jumped over a year ago, up 18 percent to $21 billion. But the mortgage unit still lost money as the bank worked through problem mortgages issued before the crisis.

NEW YORK — PepsiCo’s net income dipped 5 percent in the third quarter as the snack food and beverage maker poured more money into bolstering its flagship brands and developing new products that position it for the future.

Still, profit for the company, which makes Frito-Lay chips, Tropicana juice and Quaker Oats, was above Wall Street expectations, and Pepsi stood by its guidance for the year.

PepsiCo, the world’s No. 2 soda maker, is trying to play catch-up to bigger rival Coca-Cola.

At a time when people in developed markets like the U.S. have grown more concerned about drinking sugary sodas, both companies have been relying more on bottled teas, water and other drinks.

But soft drinks remain a big business, and Coca-Cola has grown its market share in recent years through marketing and innovative packaging.

NEW YORK — EBay’s third-quarter net income grew 22 percent, helped by higher revenue at its PayPal payments service and the marketplaces business that includes eBay.com.

The results were roughly within expectations, with revenue a little light and earnings a tad higher than what Wall Street analysts had predicted. EBay also raised its full-year guidance slightly.

The online commerce company said Wednesday that it earned $597 million, or 45 cents per share, in the July-September period, up from $491 million, or 37 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 15 percent to $3.4 billion.

Wire reports