US stocks dip ahead of French election

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks fell on Friday (April 21) on mixed earnings and cautious investor sentiment ahead of the French presidential election this weekend.

With polls in France showing a tight contest ahead of Sunday's first round of voting and the chance of a run-off between two anti-eurozone candidates, "nobody wants to take any new position," said Karl Haeling of LBBW.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.2 per cent to 20,547.55.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3 per cent to 2,348.70, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.1 per cent at 5,910.52.

General Electric fell 2.4 per cent as it reported US$619 million (S$864 million) in profits in the first quarter of the year, up from a US$61 million loss in the same period a year ago. However, earnings in the oil and gas business were down.

Schlumberger fell 2.2 per cent as it reported US$6.9 billion in revenues, about US$100 million below expectations. The oil services company pointed to an uptick in activity in some operations, but said "continued underinvestment" by oil producers could lead to a supply crunch in the medium term.

Honeywell International jumped 2.7 per cent as first-quarter earnings were US$1.71 per share, nine cents above analyst expectations.

Mattel slumped 13.6 per cent as it reported a US$113.2 million loss in the first quarter, saying sales were damaged by a glut of toys after the holiday period.