Stocks end mixed after choppy trading day; S&P slips just below all-time high

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Stock indexes closed out a wobbly day of trading on Wall Street with a mixed finish Tuesday, leaving the Standard & Poor’s 500 index just below its all-time high.

The benchmark index slipped less than 0.1% after wavering between small gains and losses for much of the day. Losses in technology, healthcare, communication services and other sectors in the index outweighed gains in banks, industrial stocks and energy companies. The Dow Jones industrial average also ended up essentially flat, while the Nasdaq composite fell.

The market’s choppy turn came as investors pored over a mixed batch of company quarterly report cards in what is the busiest week for earnings so far this season. UPS, Hasbro and Archer-Daniels-Midland were among the winners after delivering results that impressed traders. Among the losers: Tesla, Eli Lilly and General Electric.

Investors expect U.S. corporate results due out this week to show stronger profits as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out and as consumer spending strengthens.

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“What’s more of a focus is really the guidance they’re giving, looking further into 2021 and beyond,” said Greg Bassuk, chairman and chief executive of AXS Investments. “A lot of companies are trying to figure ultimately when the COVID-19 cloud is really going to lift.”

The S&P 500 lost 0.90 point to 4,186.72. The index was coming off its latest all-time high. The Dow barely recovered from an early slide, adding 3.36 points, or less than 0.1%, to 33,984.93. The Nasdaq fell 48.56 points, or 0.3%, to 14,090.22. The tech-heavy index also set a record high Monday.

Smaller companies fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index inched up 3.26 points, or 0.1%, to 2,301.27.

Tesla, whose stock has been soaring over the last year, fell 4.5% despite reporting stronger sales of electric vehicles.

General Electric fell 0.6% after the troubled industrial giant reported a double-digit drop in revenue and a quarterly loss, as the company continues to struggle in its turnaround plan. GE’s stock has been volatile this year, soaring as much as 80%.

Microsoft fell 3.1% in after-hours trading following the release of its quarterly results.

Beyond earnings, investors are watching the latest economic reports for more clues about the pace and scale of the economic recovery.

The Federal Reserve started a two-day policy meeting Tuesday. Investors expect the U.S. central bank to keep its key lending rate close to zero and inject more money into the financial system through bond purchases.

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Bond yields remained relatively stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.62% from 1.57% late Monday.

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