U.S. stocks retreated slightly at the start of trade Tuesday, a day after the S&P 500 index scored a record close, as investors kept their attention on a stream of corporate earnings and awaited a two-day Federal Reserve meeting that’s expected to deliver another interest rate cut on Wednesday.
What are major indexes doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.01% fell 21 points, or 0.1%, at 27,067, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.02% edged down 3 points, or 0.1%, to 3,037. The Nasdaq Composite index COMP, -0.39% retreated 15 points, or 0.2%, at 8,310.
The S&P 500 ended in record territory for the first time in three months on Monday, with the S&P 500 rising 16.87 points, or 0.6%, to close at a record 3,039.42, taking out the previous all-time closing high of 3,025.86 set on July 26. The large-cap index also set an intraday record, taking out the previous high-water mark also set on July 26.
Other major indexes weren’t far behind. The Dow gained 132.66 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 27,090.72, off just 1% from its record close of 27,359.16 set on July 15. The Nasdaq Composite briefly traded above its record close of 8,330.21 set on July 26, but ended just shy of the mark at 8,325.99, a gain of 82.87 points, or 1%.
What’s driving the market?
Stock prices were in consolidation mode after the S&P 500 hit a fresh high Monday, while investors parsed another round of corporate earnings reports.
Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOG, -2.15% GOOGL, -2.16% were down 1.4% after the search giant reported a third-quarter earnings miss late Monday, helping weigh on technology shares and the broader S&P 500.
Corporations continued a trend Tuesday of reporting better-than-feared third quarter results, though expectations were lowered significantly heading into earnings season. Dow components Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, +1.82%, Pfizer Inc. PFE, +3.00% were both on the rise early Tuesday, after Merck reported third-quarter profit and revenue that rose above expectations and Pfizer said that third-quarter earnings rose more than expected, while upgrading guidance for the full-year 2019.
The drug companies combined to give the Dow a TK-point boost in early Tuesday trade.
U.S.-China trade was also on the radar, with equities getting a lift Monday from positive noises out of Beijing and Washington late last week and over the weekend on prospects for concluding a deal.
The focus was also turning to the Fed, with investors pondering whether the central bank will move to dampen expectations for further monetary easing beyond Wednesday’s expected interest rate cut.
“Before the Fed releases its decision tomorrow and top-tier economic data begin to trickle in, today is likely to show a lackluster session, although we doubt the positive mood will come to an abrupt end,” wrote analyst at UniCredit Bank, in a note.
The highlight of this week’s economic calendar comes Friday with the October U.S. employment numbers. On Tuesday, investors were watching the Case-Shiller home-price index, which fell 0.2% in August while rising 2% year-over-year.
An October consumer confidence reading is due at 10 a.m. September pending home sales are also due at that time.
“While not a major impulse, it will be interesting to see whether the U.S. consumer remains immune to the wider decline in sentiment,” the UniCredit analysts said.
What companies are in focus?
General Motors Co. GM, +4.86% reported third-quarter profits that were well above expectations, despite a month long strike, and revenue that fell less than forecast, sending shares 4.9% higher Tuesday morning.
Shares of ConocoPhillips COP, +0.87% fell 1.3% after the energy company beat estimates for earnings-per-share but did not report a revenue figure.
HCA Healthcare Inc. HCA, +4.83% shares rose 3.6% Tuesday morning after the hospital operator reported earnings that fell more than expected in the third quarter, but revenue that rose more than expected.
Xerox Holdings Corp. XRX, +15.43% shares were also up more than 9%, lifted after the copier maker reported third-quarter profit and revenue that topped expectations and said it had decided not to sell its consumer financing business.
A first-time quarterly profit wasn’t providing a lift for meat-substitute purveyor Beyond Meat Inc. BYND, -18.07%. Shares were down 23.4% Tuesday after the company reported results after Monday’s closing bell.
How are other markets trading?
In commodities markets, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil for December delivery CLZ19, -1.43% fell $1.10 to $54.71 a barrel and the price of an ounce of gold GCZ19, -0.41% retreated $5.30 to $1,490.60.
In Asia overnight, stocks traded mixed, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.42% falling 0.4%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.47% gaining 0.4% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, -0.39% falling 0.4%. In Europe, stocks were mostly lower, as reflected by the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.39%, which fell 0.4%.