Streak over; markets take small step back

A mixed bag of corporate earnings nudged U.S. stocks slightly lower Wednesday, snapping the market’s five-day winning streak.

Communications sector stocks, led by steep declines in video game companies, accounted for most of the market’s slide. Take-Two Interactive and Electronic Arts plunged after reporting earnings that fell far short of what Wall Street analysts were expecting. The companies also issued weak forecasts, citing tougher competition.

Gains in technology stocks offset some of those losses, with Skyworks Solutions leading a rally in semiconductor companies.

“This is an earnings-driven market, and where you’ve seen both positive and negative price movement today it has largely been sector and industry specific,” said Paul Springmeyer, head of investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “On balance, sales and earnings are really trending mostly above expectations.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21.22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,390.30. The S&P 500 index dropped 6.09 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,731.61. The benchmark index finished higher the previous five days in a row.

The Nasdaq composite slid 26.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,375.28. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 2.20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,518.02. Major European indexes also finished lower.

More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have already reported results for the last three months of 2018, and most have turned in earnings that beat analysts’ forecasts.

“What we are seeing is earnings are in fact slowing, but they still remain positive,” Springmeyer said.

That’s helped to allay some investors’ fears over a slowdown in growth. Still, broader economic concerns continue to shadow the market, including uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade dispute, the impact tariffs are having on profits and consumers’ wallets, and signs of a general slowdown in global growth.

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