US stocks end mixed on Fed, trade worries

VIDEO: REUTERS
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 1m 2018.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 1m 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street closed mixed on Tuesday (May 1) as trade and economic woes persisted but anticipation of earnings from Apple pushed the Nasdaq higher.

The negative finish for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was the benchmark index's third straight close in the red.

The Dow fell 0.3 per cent to end at 24,097.53, paring losses from earlier in the session that threatened to put the index down triple digits.

The broader S&P 500 turned positive in the afternoon, rising 0.3 per cent to close at 2,654.61, but the day's strongest gains were at the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which jumped 0.9 per cent to 7,130.70.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday began a two-day meeting and could offer clues as to how aggressively the central bank plans to raise interest rates this year. The prospect of faster rate hikes has unnerved investors in recent months as inflation shows signs of mounting.

"Earnings have not been driving up stocks ever since earnings season started," said Karl Haeling of LBBW, adding that investors believed corporate earnings may already be at their peak for the year.

This left stock prices vulnerable to a mix of general worries, Haeling said, citing softer economic data, Wednesday's interest rate decision from the Fed and the churning uncertainty of US trade relations.

President Donald Trump on Monday extended for 30 days exemptions for the European Union, Canada and Mexico from the steel and aluminum tariffs he announced in March, and a US delegation this week will enter thorny trade talks with Beijing.

The ISM manufacturing index showed growth slowed more than expected in April, while prices hit a seven-year high.

Construction spending also disappointed last month, falling on a sharp decline in home building.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer fell 3.3 percent on sluggish quarterly sales growth.

Meanwhile, iPhone maker Apple jumped 2.3 per cent ahead of earnings to be announced after the closing bell. Chip-maker Intel likewise added 3.3 per cent.