By Alison Griswold
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks mostly retreated on Wednesday as falling utility and commodity shares more than offset gains in the tech sector on Apple's solid earnings.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended slightly lower a day after closing at a record high. Caterpillar
The benchmark S&P 500 logged its first back-to-back declines in a month. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 closed slightly lower after setting a record intraday high of 1,698.78.
The tech-driven Nasdaq barely finished in positive territory, eking out a gain of less than a point despite a 5.1 percent jump in shares of Apple
Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer of OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois, said investors are in a "wait-and-watch" phase as earnings come out.
"They gave us a lift during the first half of the month, and they're now having a difficult time sustaining that momentum," he said. "I think the pop that we're going to get out of earnings has already occurred."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 25.50 points, or 0.16 percent, to end at 15,542.24 - a day after closing at a record 15,567.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 6.45 points, or 0.38 percent, to finish at 1,685.94.
But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> inched up 0.33 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to close at 3,579.60.
Shares of Facebook Inc
In other trading after the bell, Visa Inc
Shares of Ameriprise Financial Inc
Stocks fell across the board during Wednesday's regular trading. Nine of the 10 S&P 500 industry sector indexes slid. The utilities index <.SPLRCU> was the worst performer, shedding 1.6 percent, while the materials and energy indexes fell nearly 1 percent apiece.
Analysts said the stock market was pausing as investors booked profits after a sizable upward move over the past month. The S&P 500 has added as much as 7.8 percent since late June, and it has set some record closing highs along the way.
Tech bellwether Apple rose 5.1 percent to $440.51 a day after it reported earnings and revenues that beat Wall Street's estimates, helping to keep the Nasdaq afloat and bolster the S&P 500's tech shares as well. The S&P tech sector index <.SPLRCT> rose 0.86 percent to end at 506.92, after climbing as much as 1.4 percent earlier in the day.
Caterpillar and AT&T, on the other hand, disappointed investors after posting results. Caterpillar shares fell 2.4 percent to $83.44. AT&T shares tumbled 1.2 percent to $35.40.
Boeing, also a Dow component, posted upbeat second-quarter results, but the stock fell 0.8 percent to close at $106.95 after hitting a lifetime intraday high of $109.48.
Shares of Nasdaq OMX Group
T. Rowe Price Group
Of the 169 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results so far this season, 65.7 percent have beaten analysts' expectations for earnings and 53.3 percent have posted revenue above forecasts. Over the past four quarters, 67 percent of companies have beaten earnings estimates.
Shares of little-known uranium company USEC Inc
About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, slightly below the daily average of about 6.4 billion.
Decliners outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio of 3 to 1. On the Nasdaq, three stocks fell for every two that rose.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)