Stocks ticked higher as investors waited to see whether big US companies would deliver on expectations of strong earnings. Alcoa’s results were mostly good. Later this week the pace picks up with reports from Bed Bath & Beyond, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase. Telecommunications stocks fell while health care issues inched higher. Lufkin Industries, an oilfield equipment maker, surged almost 38 percent after General Electric agreed to buy the company for $3 billion. GE wants to bolster its oil and gas operations. J&J dropped 93 cents after JPMorgan analysts cut their rating to neutral, saying it has risen too far, too fast.