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US stock indexes close lower on mixed company earnings

(AP) — A choppy day of trading on Wall Street ended Tuesday with stocks closing lower after a sell-off in technology stocks strengthened toward the end of the day.

That late-afternoon burst of selling erased modest gains for the market, which was coming off two weeks of gains.

The major indexes wavered for much of the day between small gains and losses as investors weighed a mixed batch of earnings reports from McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and other big companies.

Weak profits and sales pulled shares in McDonald’s lower. Travelers sank after the insurance company reported earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. Meanwhile, traders bid up shares in Procter & Gamble after the consumer products maker raised its profit forecast for the year following surprisingly good third quarter earnings.

“We’re still waiting to see how earnings season shakes out,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior markets strategist at Voya Investment Management. “There have been some winners and some losers. There’s been a couple of misses.”

The S&P 500 index fell 10.73 points, or 0.4%, to 2,995.99. The index spent most of the day at or above 3,000 and briefly climbed 0.3% before the late-afternoon slide.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 39.54 points, or 0.2%, to 26,788.10.

The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, bore the brunt of the selling, losing 58.69 points, or 0.7%, to 8,104.30.

Smaller company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index added 0.73 points, or 0.1%, to 1,550.87.

Bond prices rose. 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.

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, helped put investors in a buying mood in recent weeks. The benchmark S&P 500 has notched weekly gains the past two weeks.

Analysts came into this latest earnings season expecting profits to decline overall for companies in the S&P 500. But with about 15% of companies in the index reporting so far, results have been surprisingly positive.

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