S&P slips for fourth session as earnings, politics weigh

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 fell on Tuesday for a fourth consecutive session, weighed by sectors sensitive to economic growth amid disappointing earnings and lingering concern over the priorities of the Trump administration.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Technology and financials were the sectors that weighed the most on the S&P 500, while healthcare helped cut losses and the index closed far from its session low. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on both the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with top executives from some of the biggest drugmakers in a move seen as lowering tensions that have kept drug stocks in check since the presidential election.

The NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical index .DRG gained 1.3 percent. The index was unchanged from the Nov. 8 election to Monday's close, having risen more than 6 percent at one point.

But some worried that Trump’s focus was not on the issues that triggered a market rally after his election, like tax reform and a fiscal stimulus.

“If you start burning political capital by doing things that are unpopular and you lose some of that majority you have, it calls into question your ability to get the tax plan done,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

Hogan said the market trend continues to be higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 107.04 points, or 0.54 percent, to 19,864.09, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 2.03 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,278.87 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.07 points, or 0.02 percent, to 5,614.79.

The S&P 500 posted its fourth consecutive daily decline, the longest streak since before the election. But the three indexes ended the month higher, with the 4.3 percent gain in the Nasdaq its largest since July.

Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures NQcv1 turned positive after hours following a near 3 percent post-market jump in Apple AAPL.O shares after the iPhone maker posted quarterly results.

On Tuesday, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.75-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.59-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Package delivery company UPS UPS.N fell 6.8 percent to $109.13, weighing the most on the industrial sector, after posting a quarterly loss and issuing a full-year profit forecast that missed expectations.

Industrials .SPLRCI were the day's largest decliners among S&P 500 sectors.

Under Armour UA.N lost nearly a fourth of its market value, down 23.4 percent to $19.22.

The dollar fell 0.84 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY after Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro to gain a competitive advantage.

Despite the market moves triggered by political headlines, some trust that fundamentals will support stock prices. Corporate earnings are expected to have grown 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter with revenues rising 4.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“There’s good momentum in the economy, the labor market is doing well. The U.S. is fundamentally good, but you have this political uncertainty,” said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer, Multi-Asset Strategies and Solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.

In that scenario, Zemsky thinks this is a ‘buy the dip’ kind of market.

“Earnings are going to continue to rise and the tweets and the news and the legislation are going to be stocks-friendly overall. Not every tweet, but the trend will be business-friendly, which should be equity market-friendly.”

A two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee that ends Wednesday is also on investors’ radars. The central bank is not expected to raise rates but investors will focus on how policymakers view the economy under a Trump presidency.

The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 82 new highs and 48 new lows.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski