FILE - This Aug. 23, 2019, file photo shows the New York Stock Exchange in New York. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 22. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

US stock indexes waver on mixed company earnings

October 22, 2019 - 2:42 pm

The major U.S. stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses in late-afternoon trading Tuesday as investors weighed a mixed batch of earnings reports from McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and other big companies.

Trading was choppy for much of the day, though outside of the Nasdaq, the moves were small. The S&P 500 continued to hover around 3,000, within range of its all-time high set on July 26.

Technology companies accounted for most of the selling, which pulled the Nasdaq composite lower than the rest of the indexes. Microsoft dropped 1.1%. Payment processors Visa and Mastercard also fell, shedding 2.8% and 4.2%, respectively.

Netflix dropped 3.9% and Facebook lost 3.5%, helping to drag down the communications services sector.

Financial stocks fell as bond yields declined. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is a benchmark for the interest rates banks charge for mortgages and other loans, fell to 1.77% from 1.79% late Monday.

Industrial, energy and health care companies notched gains.

Some of the latest company earnings were surprisingly good, though a few large companies gave investors disappointing results and tempered the market's gains.

Weak profits and sales sent McDonald's lower. Travelers sank 8.2% after the insurance company reported earnings that fell far short of analysts' forecast.

Biogen soared after the biotechnology giant said it will ask regulators to approve a treatment for Alzheimer's. The company's gains gave a strong shot to the broader health care sector.

Procter & Gamble rose 2.8% and lifted consumer product makers after the company raised its profit forecast for the year following surprisingly good third quarter earnings.

Investors have been shifting their focus to corporate earnings reports as they wait for developments in the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.

Optimism over the latest round of talks, which for now have at least prevented the costly conflict from escalating further, has helped put investors in a buying mood. The benchmark S&P 500 has notched weekly gains the past two weeks.

This week will be a busy one for investors. Boeing, Caterpillar and Microsoft all report their results on Wednesday. American Airlines, Twitter and Amazon will report on Thursday.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was down 0.1% as of 3:35 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 41 points, or 0.2%, to 26,869. The Nasdaq fell 0.5%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 0.1%.

HEALTHY STOCK: Biogen soared 27.7% after the biotechnology company gave investors a double dose of good news. The maker of multiple sclerosis and other drugs surprised investors with its move to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve a potential Alzheimer's treatment. The drug had previously appeared to fail in studies earlier this year and the company halted development. A new analysis shows the drug met key treatment goals.

The company also handily beat Wall Street's third-quarter profit and revenue forecasts.

SAGGING ARCHES: McDonald's slid 4.5% after its third-quarter profit and revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The company has been spending more money to promote its delivery options and stores are undergoing extensive renovations.

CHANGING OUTFITS: Under Armour climbed 6.6% after the athletic gear maker said founder Kevin Plank will step down as CEO in the new year to become the company's executive chairman and brand chief. Patrik Frisk, who became president and chief operating officer two years ago, will be the second CEO since it was founded in 1996.

NOT SO TASTY: Del Taco Restaurants slumped 16.8% after the restaurant chain's third-quarter profit fell short of Wall Street expectations. It also its revenue forecast.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe finished higher after British lawmakers on Tuesday approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal in principle. However, they also rejected the government's fast-track attempt to pass the bill within days.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will "pause" the government's planned Brexit legislation.

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AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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