NEW YORK: The S&P 500 slipped on Wednesday after ending the previous session with a record and the Nasdaq failed to hold all-time highs reached earlier in the day while investors waited for more earnings reports.
Energy stocks were the biggest drag on the S&P 500 as oil prices fell. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq had help from eBay Inc's upbeat earnings and a chipmaker rally, investors were digesting a mixed bag of reports.
The S&P 500, closing roughly 0.5% below its intraday record high hit in late September, has rallied about 17% year-to-date. It has been supported by a dovish Federal Reserve, hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal and largely upbeat earnings.
But, with big companies such as Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc, reporting after the close on Wednesday and Amazon.com and Intel Corp reports on tap for Thursday afternoon, many investors kept to the sidelines.
"While the expectations are for good reports from all four of them, recent strength and relative valuations are keeping people on the edge of their seat," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
"There was no needle moving news today for people to be making bigger bets on anything after the big move we had yesterday."
In aftermarket trading, Microsoft shares rose about 3% and Facebook shares gained nearly 5%.
At the market close on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59.34 points, or 0.22%, to 26,597.05, the S&P 500 lost 6.43 points, or 0.22%, to 2,927.25 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.81 points, or 0.23%, to 8,102.02.
Profits of S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 1.1% for the first quarter, still a large improvement from the 2.3% drop estimated at the start of April. And nearly 78% of the 129 companies that have reported so far have surpassed earnings estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
"The overall picture confirms the economy is on a steady footing. It's skewing to the positive side," said Laura Kane, head of Americas thematic investing at UBS Global Wealth Management.
"The market is taking a pause," she said. "We've a lot of earnings coming this week and next. There's nothing today that would change the overall economic outlook."
Only three of the S&P 500's 11 major industry sectors ended the day in positive territory, and real estate led the gainers with a 0.8% rise. Energy was the biggest decliner with a 1.9% drop.
The technology sector lost its gains late in the session to close down 0.01 percent and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index closed up 0.95% after hitting an all-time high during the session. Texas Instruments Inc rose 1.8% after its quarterly report.
Caterpillar Inc fell 3% as rising costs hit margins in its construction equipment business and the company reported tepid sales in the Asia-Pacific region.
AT&T Inc was the biggest drag on the S&P 500, declining 4% after the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier reported quarterly revenue below Wall Street estimates.
EBay jumped 5% after the company raised its full-year sales and profit forecasts.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp jumped 11.6%, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500, after Occidental Petroleum Corp sought to scuttle Chevron Corp's takeover of the company with a $57 billion bid.
Boeing Co closed up 0.38% even after scrapping its 2019 outlook and reporting quarterly revenue below estimates due to grounding of its 737 MAX jets. Its shares have lost about 11% since the deadly Ethiopian crash in early March.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 96 new highs and 37 new lows.
On U.S. exchanges 6.57 billion shares changed hands compared with the 6.65 billion-share average for the last 20 sessions.The euro fell against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday after data showed a surprise deterioration in German business morale, raising fears of slowing global growth and weighing on a gauge of world equity markets, including Wall Street.
The decline in the Munich-based Ifo economic institute's business climate index bucked expectations for a small improvement and sent U.S. Treasury yields lower as investors piled into safe-haven bonds.
Reports of a sharp slowdown in Australian inflation also lifted bond prices. Premier Li Keqiang in China fed concerns about global growth, saying authorities should not underestimate the difficulties in the Chinese economy.
Signals that China has put broader stimulus on hold curbed demand for European equities and overshadowed strong earnings from Credit Suisse and SAP, which led Germany's DAX index to close up 0.63% at a six month high.
The 12.6% surge in the German software firm's shares helped technology post its best days since August 2015, but all other major country indexes in Europe closed lower.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.09%, while MSCI's gauge of stock performance in 47 countries fell 0.42%.
Wall Street shrugged off some earnings misses but drifted lower at the end of the session. Boeing Co rose 0.39% after the planemaker reported first-quarter free cash flow that was ahead of many analysts' estimates, helped by improved performance from its 787 Dreamliner program.
U.S. corporate earnings have been much better than expected and are driving the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes to new highs, though the pace of gains should slow, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.
"You're seeing a transition, at least for today," Arone said. "There are some concerns that outside the U.S. global growth continues to be disappointing and that's weighing on shares."
Defensive sectors of the market, REITs, utilities and staples, rose. Cyclical-oriented shares struggled with the renewed growth concerns.
The Nasdaq fell after setting all-time intra-day high. Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 set new closing record highs on Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59.34 points, or 0.22%, to 26,597.05. The S&P 500 lost 6.43 points, or 0.22%, to 2,927.25 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.81 points, or 0.23%, to 8,102.02.
The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.43% at 98.059, its highest since June 2017.
The euro was down 0.61% at $1.1157, while the Japanese yen strengthened 0.3% versus the greenback at 112.19 per dollar.
In a sign of bullish sentiment, the Treasury yield curve steepened further, hitting its widest level since November 2018. Benchmark 10-year notes rose 14/32 in price to push their yield down to 2.5199%.
Oil prices steadied near six-month highs after data showed U.S. stockpiles rose to their highest levels since October 2017, countering fears of tight supply from OPEC output cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.
U.S. crude inventories rose 5.5 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, far more than the 1.3 million barrel increase analysts had forecast.
Brent crude futures settled up 6 cents at $74.57 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 41 cents to settle at $65.89 a barrel.
U.S. gold futures settled 0.5 percent higher at $1,279.40 an ounce. - Reuters