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Wall Street falters after mixed earnings, trading halt

  • SEC Investigates NYSE Opening Clock Error
  • 3M slips on worse Q1 forecast
  • J&J falls on sales warning; GE down on weak profit outlook
  • Microsoft will report quarterly results after the market closes
  • Indices: Dow up 0.18%, S&P 500 off 0.13%, Nasdaq down 0.25%

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Wall Street was mixed on Tuesday as a series of mixed earnings took some wind out of the sails of the latest rally.

The session got off to a rocky start, as a wave of NYSE-listed stocks were halted at the opening bell due to an apparent technical glitch, causing initial price confusion and prompting an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

More than 80 stocks were affected by the error, which caused wide swings in the opening prices of shares, including Walmart Inc ( WMT.N ) and Nike Inc ( NKE.N ).

“It looks like the NYSE figured it out very early,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta. “Now they’re trying to figure out what the opening trade prices were.”

“Everyone involved in trade settlements is going to have a long day today.”

All three indexes spluttered near the starting line, with little apparent momentum in either direction.

Fourth quarter earnings season is in full swing, and 72 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported. Of those, 65% have beaten the consensus, just a hair below the 66% long-term average, according to Refinitiv.

Overall, analysts now expect S&P 500 earnings to decline 2.9% in the year-ago quarter, down from the 1.6% year-over-year decline from Jan. 1, per Refinitiv.

“Earnings are not something that is a bullish issue for the market yet, but there is an anxiety among investors to be long once the Fed is done raising interest rates,” Sroka added. “We’re hitting a ramp in the earnings cycle, and by next week we’ll have a lot more information about the direction of the market.”

Economic data showed a shallower-than-expected decline in the manufacturing and services sectors in the first weeks of the year, suggesting the Federal Reserve’s restrictive interest rates are dampening demand.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 60.69 points, or 0.18%, to 33,690.25, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 5.36 points, or 0.13%, to 4,014.45 and The Nasdaq Composite (.2839 points, .IXIC) fell. 0.25% to 11,336.03.

Among the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, industrials were down the most.

Intercontinental Exchange Inc ( ICE.N ), owner of the New York Stock Exchange, fell 2.5% as SEC investigators searched for the cause of Tuesday’s opening bell confusion.

Shares in Alphabet Inc ( GOOGL.O ) fell 1.8% after the Justice Department sued Google for abusing its dominance in the digital advertising industry.

Johnson & Johnson’s ( JNJ.N ) earnings guidance came in above analysts’ expectations. Nevertheless, the share fell 0.3 percent.

Industrial conglomerates 3M Co ( MMM.N ) and General Electric Co ( GE.N ) both gave underwhelming forward guidance due to inflation headwinds.

3M’s shares fell 5.1% while General Electric’s was modestly lower.

Aerospace/defense companies Lockheed Martin Corp ( LMT.N ) and Raytheon Technologies Corp ( RTX.N ) were a study in contrasts, with the former giving a disappointing earnings forecast and the latter beating estimates on solid travel demand.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon rose 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively.

Railroad operator Union Pacific Corp missed profit estimates as labor shortages and severe weather delayed shipments. The shares fell 2.7 percent.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is due to report after the clock.

Advances outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.16 to 1; on the Nasdaq, a 1.06 to 1 ratio favored decliners.

S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; The Nasdaq Composite recorded 69 new highs and 21 new lows.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Aurora Ellis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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