US STOCKS-Dow slips, S&P flat as stimulus stalemate weighs
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The Dow traded lower on Friday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were little changed in choppy trading, pressured by a stalemate in negotiations on a new U.S. coronavirus aid bill as investors turned cautious ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The three indexes were pulled down by the more than 10% slump in chipmaker Intel Corp INTC.O after it reported a drop in margins as consumers bought cheaper laptops and pandemic-stricken businesses and governments clamped down on data center spending.
Uncertainty over the timeline of the relief legislation has been weighing on Wall Street's major indexes, which were set to cap a choppy week lower.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it still was possible to get another round of COVID-19 aid before the election, but that it was up to President Donald Trump to act, including talking to reluctant Senate Republicans, if he wants it.
Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin countered that Pelosi must compromise to get an aid package, saying significant differences remained between the Republican administration and Democrats.
"The rhetoric from Capitol Hill has been confusing and fairly volatile," said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta. "That has led to uncertainty which has caused stocks to drift a bit lower the last few trading sessions."
Meanwhile, a record 50 million Americans cast ballots, eclipsing total early voting from the 2016 election. Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden debated on Thursday for the last time to persuade the few remaining undecided voters 11 days before their contest, but while the debate was more toned down and substantive, it hardly moved the needle.
Trump trailed former vice president Biden in national polls, but the contest is much tighter in some battleground states where the election will likely be decided.
At 2:06 PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 79.43 points, or 0.28%, to 28,284.23, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.57 points, or 0.07%, to 3,456.06 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.17 points, or 0%, to 11,506.17.
The energy index .SPNY dropped 1.4%, the most among 11 major S&P sectors.
The third-quarter earnings season chugged along, with about 84% of the 135 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far topping quarterly profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data.
Next week's focus will be on results from Big Tech companies Apple Inc AAPL.O, Facebook Inc FB.O, Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Google-parent Alphabet GOOGL.O.
Gilead Sciences Inc GILD.O rose 0.7% as its antiviral drug remdesivir became the first and only drug approved for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States.
American Express Co AXP.N dropped 3.4% as it missed estimates for third-quarter profit after its customers spent less during the COVID-19 fueled economic slowdown and it set aside money for potential payment defaults.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.39-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.29-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 52 new highs and 14 new lows.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfus; Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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