By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks slipped Tuesday on uncertainty over the U.S. rate outlook and disappointing results from Ford and other companies.
Data showing U.S. business investment plans fell for a second straight month in September added to the weaker tone.
Shares of Apple (AAPL), the biggest company by market capitalization, fell 0.6 percent at $114.55 ahead of its results.
Ford (F) dropped 5 percent to $14.89 after quarterly results missed expectations, while JetBlue Airways (JBLU) fell 3.2 percent to $25.36 after it said it will make less money per mile in October than it did a year ago.
Shares of other airlines also fell, and the Dow Jones transportation average dropped 2.6 percent.
The Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting. While expectations for a rate hike this week are slim, investors are looking for clues on when the Fed will begin to raise interest rates.
“Tonight is Apple and that’s going to be a big driver, and it’s probably why the market is kind of floppy today, coupled with the fact we’re going to get the Fed statement tomorrow. That’s going to be parsed every way possible,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BBT Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Casting more doubts on whether the Fed will raise rates this year, data showed U.S. non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, slipped last month after a downwardly revised decline in August.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 41.62 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,581.43, the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 5.29 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,065.89 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 4.56 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,030.15.
Movers and Shakers
Alibaba (BABA) rose 4 percent to $79.44 after the e-commerce giant reported better-than-expected revenue. After the bell, shares of Twitter dropped after it reported results. Twitter (TWTR) stock ended the regular session up 1.5 percent.
Declines in crude oil weighed further on energy shares, and the SP energy index, down 1.2 percent, led sector declines for the SP 500.
Health care was only one of two SP 500 sectors to end in positive territory for the day. The index was up 1.7 percent after better-than-expected earnings from top drugmakers Pfizer and Merck. Pfizer (PFE) was up 2.4 percent at $34.99 and Merck (MRK) was up 1.1 percent at $53.47.
Among other gainers, shares of hotel operators rose after The Wall Street Journal reported at least three Chinese firms were looking to bid for Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide. Starwood (HOT) shares were up 9.1 percent at $74.81 while shares of Marriott International (MAR) were up 1.8 percent at $77.99.
NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 2,293 to 797, for a 2.88-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,003 issues fell and 820 advanced, for a 2.44-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The SP 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 13 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 122 new lows.
Federal Reserve policymakers meet to set interest rates and release a statement at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
These selected companies are scheduled to report quarterly financial results: