By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with the S&P 500 pulling back from its latest record high as conflicting signals surrounding a possible trade deal between the United States and China outweighed strong earnings reports from Apple and Facebook.
Mixed signals around trade gave investors reason for caution after a Bloomberg report said Chinese officials have doubts about whether it is possible to reach a comprehensive long-term trade deal with Washington and U.S. President Donald Trump.
But Trump later said the two countries would soon announce a new site where a “Phase One” trade deal will be signed after Chile canceled a planned summit set for mid-November that was to be the venue for a signing.
The S&P 500 () was on pace for its biggest drop in about three weeks, after notching intraday record highs in the past three sessions and a closing record in two of the past three days.
“We have had such a good run here, traders are looking for an excuse to take a little money off the table,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo (NYSE:) Investment Institute in St. Louis.
“The market is kind of burned out on just talking about it – wants to see something on paper. The market thinks something is going to happen but it is not going to bite hard on any of these comments one way or the other right now.”
The trade-sensitive industrials sector () lost 1.32%, while China-exposed chipmakers also fell, sending the Philadelphia Semiconductor index () down 0.97%.
However, corporate earnings were a bright spot. Apple Inc (O:) rose 1.86% after the iPhone maker forecast sales for the holiday shopping quarter ahead of expectations.
Facebook Inc (O:) gained 2.74% after reporting an uptick in users in lucrative markets and its third straight rise in quarterly sales growth..
The Dow Jones Industrial Average () fell 227.96 points, or 0.84%, to 26,958.73, the S&P 500 () lost 16.94 points, or 0.56%, to 3,029.83 and the Nasdaq Composite () dropped 30.13 points, or 0.36%, to 8,273.85.
Earnings for the quarter are now expected to decline 0.8%, according to Refinitiv data, an improvement from the 2.2% decline expected at the start of the month.
Data on Thursday showed a marginal rise in consumer spending in September, casting doubts on consumers’ ability to continue driving the economy, a key pillar of the current economic environment.
The Labor Department’s October jobs data on Friday will be closely watched after the Fed signaled on Wednesday there would be no further cuts unless the economy takes a negative turn.
Among other stocks, Estee Lauder Cos Inc (N:) fell 4.45% after the cosmetics maker cut its forecast for full-year profit.
Kraft Heinz Co (O:) jumped 11.47% as the packaged foods company said it was spending more on marketing key brands next year, after reporting a better-than-expected third-quarter profit.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.85-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.99-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 75 new lows.