Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York
U.S. stocks treaded water in a tight range in late morning trading on Tuesday as a rise in technology stocks, led by Apple, was offset by losses in consumer staples and healthcare companies.
The Nasdaq Composite eked out another record high, before easing, with investors holding off from making big bets as the two-day Federal Reserve meeting kicked off.
Weighing on sentiment was U.S. automakers reporting a fall in new vehicle sales for April. Ford (N:F) dropped 3.8 percent, while General Motors fell 3.3 percent.
“I think the auto sales numbers have caused the market to take a step back,” said Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“I think people are reading too much into that. There’s a fear that is building on last quarter’s GDP numbers that the consumer is pulling back, which we don’t think is the case.”
Data last week showed the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in the first quarter. But, Schutte said strong corporate earnings have helped hold the market up.
“With earnings rising, that is backdrop for positive stock returns moving forward.”
Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.9 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
At 11:02 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.62 points, or 0.1 percent, at 20,935.08.
The S&P 500 was down 0.18 points, or 0.00 percent, at 2,388.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.78 points, or 0.01 percent, at 6,090.82.
Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the consumer staples index’s 0.48 percent fall leading the decliners stock.
CVS Health was down 2.8 percent at $79.80, while Archer Daniels Midland fell 1.9 percent to $42.08, after reporting results.
Dow component Pfizer was down 1.5 percent at $33.29 after the drugmaker’s quarterly revenue missed estimates, pulling down the healthcare index, which fell 0.3 percent.
The technology sector was up 0.33 percent. Apple hit a record high for the second straight day. The iPhone maker is due to report results after the close of market.
Advanced Micro Devices tumbled 17.3 percent to $11.26 after the chipmaker’s second-quarter gross margins forecast raised some concerns.
Coach rose as much as 11 percent to a nine-month high of $43 after the handbag maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,371 to 1,369. On the Nasdaq, 1,576 issues fell and 1,063 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 37 new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and 32 new lows.