Wall Street flat as home improvement retailers get Amazoned

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended little changed on Wall Street on Thursday as a deal between Sears and Amazon weighed on home improvement retailers while gains in Microsoft helped buoy the Nasdaq.

Retailers and appliance makers fell after Sears SHLD.O said it would sell its Kenmore home appliances on Amazon AMZN.O and integrate the brand's smart gadgets with the online giant's Alexa digital assistant.

Sears was up 10.6 percent at $9.60 and Amazon shares rose 0.2 percent.

Home Depot HD.N fell 4.1 percent, shaving off 40 points from the Dow and weighing the most on the S&P 500. Retailers Lowes LOW.N and Best Buy BBY.N, as well as appliance maker Whirlpool WHR.N, were down between 3.9 and 5.6 percent.

“I think a lot of earnings (beats) are due to the low-interest-rate environment. Once you see a tick up in rates, the earnings are going to be affected. But right now, it looks like it’s going to continue. Earnings overall are very strong,” said Anthony Conroy, president at Abel Noser in New York.

Microsoft MSFT.O shares rose 0.9 percent in after-hours trading to $74.89 after it reported a quarterly profit that more than doubled, helped by a tax benefit and strong growth in its cloud business.

Overall earnings continue to beat expectations and major indexes closed Thursday at or near all-time highs. Analysts are estimating an 8.6 percent rise in second-quarter earnings and a 4.6 percent increase in revenue for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 28.97 points, or 0.13 percent, to close at 21,611.78, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.38 point, or 0.02 percent, to 2,473.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 4.96 points, or 0.08 percent, to 6,390.00.

Despite the market’s continued attention on business-friendly signs out of Washington, stocks did not react to the White House’s announcement it had withdrawn or removed from consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration.

“It’s not going to make things any better, it just won’t make them worse,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

“I see no tangible evidence that these regulation pullbacks have helped the economy one iota.”

T-Mobile TMUS.O gained as much as 3.3 percent after the wireless carrier's quarterly results topped analysts' estimates, but reversed course in the afternoon and closed down 1.4 percent at $61.12. Verizon VZ.N rose 1.8 percent and AT&T T.N added 1.1 percent.

Qualcomm QCOM.O fell 4.9 percent after the chipmaker's forecast missed estimates and several Apple AAPL.O suppliers filed a lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of taking additional licensing money over the assemblage of iPhones.

Property and casualty insurer Travelers TRV.N closed down 1.5 percent after reporting a drop in quarterly profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.14-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

About 5.92 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.35 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Reporting by Kimberly Chin in New York; Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by James Dalgleish