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Wall Street wavers as tech gives ground and industrials rebound

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) - Wall Street was mixed on Tuesday, with Alphabet, Facebook and other technology-related shares dipping, while a rebound in 3M and other industrials elevated the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Apple Inc jumped 4 percent in extended trade after the iPhone maker posted quarterly results following its warning earlier this month that revenue would be less than previously expected due to softness in China, whose economy has been damaged by a trade war with the United States.

Apple's stock had fallen 1.04 percent during the trading session, and its rebound after the bell helped push S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent, suggesting Wall Street could open in positive territory on Wednesday.

Interest rates were also in focus as the Federal Reserve began a two-day monetary policy meeting. After raising rates gradually last year, the central bank is taking a wait-and-see approach to further tightening in the face of an overseas slowdown and market volatility.

The Fed is widely expected to leave rates unchanged on Wednesday, and investors will look to Friday's January jobs report for clues about the pace of future inflation.

"It's a day of indecision. I don't think anyone wants to make a big bet ahead of all that news," Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Baird, said of corporate earnings, the Fed decision and the employment report.

The S&P industrials index, which took a beating after a warning from Caterpillar on Monday, rebounded 1.37 percent, helped by better-than-expected reports from 3M Co and defense companies.

Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp, which are all due to report quarterly results later this week, fell more than 2 percent each.

The S&P technology index lost 1.01 percent.

Analysts on average expect S&P 500 companies' aggregate earnings per share to have risen 14.2 percent in the fourth quarter. But with U.S. corporate tax cuts now a year old, 2019 earnings are seen rising a more moderate 5.6 percent.

As Washington and Beijing officials prepare for a high-level trade meeting this week, the Justice Department leveled charges against Chinese telecom giant Huawei, potentially casting a cloud on the talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.21 percent to end at 24,579.96 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.15 percent to 2,640, dragged down by technology and communications stocks. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.81 percent to 7,028.29.

Defense contractors L3 Technologies Inc jumped 8.44 percent and Harris Corp climbed 8.78 percent after topping quarterly earnings estimates.

3M rose 1.94 percent after its fourth-quarter results beat estimates, even as the Post-It notes maker trimmed its 2019 earnings outlook, saying that a slowdown at its Chinese business was hurting revenue.

Harley-Davidson Inc dropped 5.05 percent after the motorcycle maker reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, hit by declining sales in the United States.

Allergan Plc fell 8.55 percent after the Botox maker forecast 2019 revenue below expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.42-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 31 new highs and 29 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.9 billion shares, compared with the 7.6 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.


(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler, Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot)