The S&P 500 ended nominally lower on Tuesday at the close of a rocky session marked by a raft of mixed earnings and a technical malfunction at the opening bell.
A spate of NYSE-listed stocks were halted at the top of the session due to an apparent technical malfunction, which caused initial price confusion and prompted an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
More than 80 stocks were affected by the glitch, which caused wide swings in opening prices in dozens of stocks, including Walmart and Nike.
"Everybody’s having computer problems, first the airlines and now it’s the NYSE," said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist Ingalls & Snyder in New York. "Seems like it was quickly corrected."
"Some of the prints were clearly bad," Ghriskey added. "It was a surprise. Unexpected."
The Nasdaq joined the S&P 500 in negative territory, while the Dow ended modestly higher.
Fourth quarter earnings season is in full swing, with 72 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 65 percent have beaten consensus, just a hair below the 66 percent long-term average, according to Refinitiv.
On aggregate, analysts now expect S&P 500 earnings 2.9 percent below the year-ago quarter, down from the 1.6 percent year-on-year decline seen on January 1, per Refinitiv.
"The Fed will take apart earnings reports and look at how the economy is doing, given the rate hikes and other issues out there," Ghriskey said. "We’re getting closer to that point where the Fed sees enough progress in the inflation fight to stop the (interest) rate hikes and that’s why the markets have reacted positively lately."
Economic data showed shallower-than-expected contraction in the manufacturing and services sector in the first weeks of the year, suggesting that the Federal Reserve's restrictive interest rates are dampening demand.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.31 percent, to 33,734, the S&P 500 lost 0.07 percent, to 4,017 and the Nasdaq dropped 0.27 percent, to 11,334.
Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the New York Stock Exchange, dropped 2.2 percent as SEC investigators searched for the cause of Tuesday's opening bell confusion.
Alphabet shares dipped 2.1 percent after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Google for abusing its dominance of the digital advertising business.
Industrial conglomerates 3M Co and General Electric Co both provided underwhelming forward guidance due to inflationary headwinds. 3M's shares lost 6.2 percent while General Electric's rose 1.2 percent.
Aerospace/defense companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies were a study in contrasts, with the former issuing a disappointing profit forecast and the latter beating estimates on solid travel demand.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were up 1.8 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
Microsoft gained more than 4 percent in extended trading after narrowly missing quarterly revenue estimates. (Reuters)