By Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan
Oct 27 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 was little changed on Tuesday after a sharp pull back in the prior session as investors parsed through a slew of mixed corporate earnings, while awaiting progress on U.S. fiscal stimulus.
The blue-chip Dow was weighed down by shares of Caterpillar Inc CAT.N and 3M Co MMM.N after the industrial companies reported lower quarterly earnings.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6% as Microsoft Corp MSFT.O firmed 0.8% 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 account for about a fifth of the S&P 500's total value, also report results this week.
Concerns over a rise in U.S. coronavirus cases is weighing on the market but technology, in particular, seems the least exposed sector, said Rick Meckler, partner, Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.
"A focus on the big technology companies may move this market to rally despite the problems the virus is creating."
Record number of new coronavirus infections in the United States and some European countries and an elusive fiscal stimulus sent the three major U.S. stock indexes to near four-week lows on Monday.
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 jitters over the outcome of the election.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in national polls but the race is much tighter in battleground states which determine the election outcome.
At 9:43 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 71.97 points, or 0.26%, at 27,613.41, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 0.95 points, or 0.03%, at 3,400.02. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 53.17 points, or 0.47%, at 11,412.11.
Insurer American International Group Inc AIG.N gained 3.3% 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 2.8% as it agreed to buy Xilinx Inc XLNX.O in a $35 billion all-stock deal that will intensify its battle with Intel Corp INTC.O in the data center chip market. Xilinx shares soared about 10.2%, while Intel shares fell 1.9%.
Merck & Co Inc MRK.N gained 0.4% as it raised its full-year earnings forecast. Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N fell about 5% after its quarterly profit took a hit from increased costs to develop a COVID-19 treatment.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.34-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded eight new 52-week highs and one new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 14 new lows.
(Reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D'Silva)
((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2802; Twitter: https://twitter.com/medhasinghs;))
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