Nasdaq falls ahead of big tech earnings

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Shares of large tech companies tumbled on Tuesday (Jan 29) ahead of big earnings announcements from the sector as US stocks finished a choppy session mostly lower.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished 0.8 per cent lower at 7,028.29.

The Dow Jones Industrial climbed 0.2 per cent to 24,579.96, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2 per cent to 2,640.00.

The lacklustre session came after the Conference Board reported the third straight month of declining consumer confidence in January.

Apple, which has warned of weak sales in China, dropped 1 per cent ahead of its earnings release later on Tuesday. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook all lost at least 2 per cent ahead of results later this week.

The declines suggested investors remain wary of the sector after chip company Nvidia on Monday also cited weakness in China in cutting its outlook.

Besides a heavy earnings calendar, investors are anticipating Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy announcement.

The Fed has in recent weeks signalled a cautious approach to lifting interest rates, a key factor in the market's rally since late December.

Markets are also looking ahead the resumption of trade talks between China and the United States.

Some analysts viewed the prospects for a Beijing-Washington agreement as dimming after the US Justice Department on Monday announced criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Huawei matter was unconnected to the trade negotiations, adding in a Fox Business interview he expected "significant" progress in the talks.

Among companies reporting results, 3M jumped 1.9 per cent as it reported that fourth-quarter profits more than doubled to US$1.3 billion (S$1.7 billion). Analysts said the results suggested the industrial company was successfully passing off higher material costs through price increases.

But Harley-Davidson dropped 5 per cent after it forecast 2019 motorcycle sales of between 217,000 and 222,000 - below the 2018 count and a sign the company still faces challenges in finding new consumers.