By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Stocks on Wall Street were little changed on Tuesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 dipping on disappointing earnings and dimmer hopes for a U.S. coronavirus stimulus before Election Day, though the Nasdaq rose ahead of big technology company results.
Investor sentiment sagged after the White House said a deal on COVID-19 relief could come in "weeks," meaning a deal is unlikely before the Nov. 3 election.
Caterpillar Inc CAT.N fell 2.79% and 3M Co MMM.N slipped 1.68% after both of the industrial companies reported a decline in quarterly earnings.
"This pullback that we've seen is a little bit more of a risk-off move as an additional stimulus package now has been pushed aside," Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree Investments, said. "That led to some disappointment."
On Monday, the three major U.S. stock indexes slid to their lowest in almost four weeks on a record number of new coronavirus cases in the United States and some European countries, and as the elusive stimulus rattled investors.
Sectors sensitive to economic growth took a hit. The S&P 500 banks index .SPXBK and the S&P energy sector .SPNY shed about 1% each.
Meanwhile, Wall Street's fear gauge .VIX hovered at its highest level in nearly two months on election jitters.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in nationwide polls but the race is much tighter in battleground states which should determine the outcome.
At 2:27 p.m. ET (1827 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 132 points, or 0.48%, to 27,553.38, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.71 points, or 0.05%, to 3,399.26 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 68.92 points, or 0.61%, to 11,427.86.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose as Microsoft Corp MSFT.O firmed 1.7% in the run-up to its results after the closing bell. Apple Inc AAPL.O, Amazon.com AMZN.O, Google-parent Alphabet GOOGL.O and Facebook Inc FB.O, which together account for about a fifth of the S&P 500's total value, report results later in the week.
The NYSE FANG+TM Index .NYFANG was up 1.68%.
Analysts expect the tech sector to post a 0.4% increase in third-quarter earnings from a year earlier, while overall S&P 500 profit is forecast to fall 16.2%, according to Refinitiv data.
Concerns over a rise in U.S. coronavirus cases are weighing on the market but the technology sector seems to be the least exposed, said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.
"A focus on big technology companies may move this market to rally despite the problems the virus is creating," he said.
Insurer American International Group Inc AIG.N gained 0.93% after its board named Peter Zaffino as chief executive officer and approved a plan to separate the life and retirement business from the rest of the company.
Semiconductor designer Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD.O fell 5.2% as it agreed to buy Xilinx Inc XLNX.O in a $35 billion all-stock deal. Xilinx shares soared about 7.46%, while those of AMD-rival Intel INTC.O fell 2.1%.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.68-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.40-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 27 new highs and 54 new lows.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Anil D'Silva and David Gregorio)
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