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US: Stocks end down after volatile session, weak data

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Wall Street stocks finished lower following a choppy session on Tuesday as mixed earnings reports and weak consumer data underscored the economic challenges caused by the coronavirus shutdowns.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished lower following a choppy session on Tuesday as mixed earnings reports and weak consumer data underscored the economic challenges caused by the coronavirus shutdowns.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.1 per cent at 24,101.55, ending a four-day winning streak.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.5 per cent to 2,863.39, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.4 per cent to 8,607.73.

Stocks opened higher amid continued investor confidence following steps by a number of US states to reopen their economies.

But skeptics have questioned the market's buoyancy throughout April, and stocks weakened later in the session.

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Consumer confidence in April plunged to 86.9 in April from the downwardly revised 118.8 in March, the Conference Board reported.

However, consumers expressed some optimism that the situation would be getting better, with 40 percent seeing improvement in the next six months.

"The story here seems to be that... people think the current position is so bad that business conditions and the labor market have to (get) better - though not necessarily good - in six months time," Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said in an analysis.

Earnings from a slew of large companies were mixed.

3M reported higher profits following a surge in demand for its N95 "respirator" masks, but said it would cut spending by US$350 million to US$400 million amid weakness in other divisions.

Caterpillar reported a drop in profits on a weak outlook for commodities and warned that second-quarter results would suffer further.

Pfizer confirmed its full-year forecast, saying increased consumer purchases of medications offset the hit from the cessation of non-essential surgical procedures.

PepsiCo withdrew its full-year forecast, citing uncertainties in the global economy.

AFP

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