The Dow Jones industrial average fell while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were little changed on Wednesday following two days of strong gains, as the first wave of quarterly earnings reports trickled into the market.
The third-quarter earnings season begins in earnest after the market close when Alcoa Inc
Investors have eagerly anticipated corporate earnings, searching for signs the developing economic recovery is translating into improved corporate profits and top-line growth.
The market has given earnings the benefit of the doubt and moved up in anticipation of continued improvement, said Keith Hembre, chief economist at First American Funds in Minneapolis. Expectations have become quite robust lately.
Retailers Costco Wholesale Corp
The Dow <.DJI> lost 25.17 points, or 0.26 percent, to 9,706.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 0.21 points, or 0.02 percent, to 1,054.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 2.89 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,106.48.
Alcoa traded up 0.6 percent at $13.97 ahead of its results.
There's a little bit of wait-and-see with Alcoa. Those results are going to set the tone for the market for the next couple of days, said John Praveen, chief investment strategist at Prudential International Investment Advisors in Newark, New Jersey.
Verisk Analytics Inc
Energy stocks lost early gains, and crude oil futures turned sharply negative after a government report showed gasoline supplies rose more than expected last week.
November crude futures dropped 2.4 percent to $69.15 per barrel. The S&P Energy index <.GSPE> was off 0.8 percent.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)