Stocks posted an uneven finish on Wall Street Tuesday, handing the S&P 500 index its second decline in a row.
An early gain faded as investors assessed a mixed bag of corporate results and looked ahead to a heavy schedule of news on companies and the economy.
Xerox and 3M rose after reporting solid results, but Harley-Davidson fell. Apple, which alarmed traders earlier this month when it disclosed that demand for iPhones is waning, reported earnings that topped Wall Street’s forecasts.
“We think earnings are good and economic growth is good, it’s just not great like it was last year,” said John Lynch, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 51.74 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,579.96. The benchmark S&P 500 index dropped 3.85 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,640.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 57.39 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,028.29. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 2.09 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,471.45. Major stock indexes in Europe closed higher.
Losses in technology and media companies outweighed solid gains in industrial and health care stocks.
Of the 22 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results for the October-December quarter, about 46 percent have posted earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street’s expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Corning delivered an upbeat fourth-quarter report, topping forecasts. The company expects more growth for its display-glass and optical communications segments, which makes screens for electronic devices and fiber optic cables. The stock jumped 11.1 percent to $33.72.
Pfizer rose after the world’s largest drugmaker reported mixed results. While hefty costs for layoffs and acquisitions sunk fourth-quarter profit, the results still topped Wall Street forecasts. The company has been struggling to upgrade sterile injectable drug factories it bought from Hospira, but repairs have dragged on and production shutdowns have cut into sales.
Pfizer also gave Wall Street a weak sales and profit outlook for the year, but the company is still coming off a good year, getting four new cancer drugs that could be blockbusters approved in the last 14 weeks of 2018. The stock climbed 3.1 percent to $40.77.
Nucor, the biggest U.S. steelmaker, said profit surged 68.5 percent during the quarter thanks in large part to a growing economy. The company also saw increased steel shipments and prices. The stock gained 2.8 percent to $60.13.
Xerox surged on better-than-expected fourth-quarter results and an upbeat forecast as it restructures its operations. Xerox vaulted 11.4 percent to $27.07. 3M rose 1.9 percent to $196.95 on upbeat fourth-quarter results and a positive forecast.
The latest quarterly results from some companies failed to impress investors.
Harley-Davidson fell after the motorcycle maker reported a drop in sales worldwide, led by a weak showing in the U.S. Shipments worldwide fell 7.9 percent. The company, which has been struggling to boost sales domestically, has been increasingly looking to sell more bikes overseas. It has warned that the ongoing trade dispute with China would raise costs. Harley’s stock dropped 5.1 percent to $34.76.
GameStop plunged after the company said it will no longer pursue a sale because of difficulty securing financing. The video game retailer is at its lowest value in nearly 14 years. The stock slid 27.2 percent to $11.28.
Even with Tuesday’s mixed finish, the market is still on track to close out January with solid gains after a lousy December as Wall Street fretted over the ongoing U.S.-China trade conflict, uncertainty over the path of interest rates and signs of a weakening global economy.
American and Chinese negotiators will sit down for two days of trade talks starting Wednesday in Washington. Those talks could be more tense than usual. China has called on Washington to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on telecom equipment maker Huawei, warning it would defend its companies. The statement comes after the U.S. escalated pressure on the tech giant by indicting it on charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran.
Among other potential market-moving news this week:
The Federal Reserve ends its latest interest rate policy meeting on Wednesday and the government releases its monthly employment report, the most important indicator on the U.S. economy, on Friday.
The jobs report will have even more importance than usual because many other reports on the economy have been delayed because of the five-week partial shutdown of the federal government that ended Friday.
U.S. crude oil rose 2.5 percent to settle at $53.31 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 2.3 percent to $61.32 per barrel in London.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.71 percent from 2.74 percent late Monday.
The dollar weakened to 109.28 yen from 109.36 yen on Monday. The euro held steady against the dollar at $1.1427.
Gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,308.90 an ounce. Silver added 0.5 percent to $15.84 an ounce. Copper gained 1.7 percent to $2.73 a pound.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 percent to $1.35 a gallon. Heating oil climbed 3.3 percent to $1.90 a gallon. Natural gas gained 1.3 percent to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet.