By Akane Otani and Caitlin Ostroff
U.S. stocks inched lower Wednesday, extending a streak of listless trading for markets.
Major indexes opened little changed and drifted along in a narrow range throughout the trading session.
Many of the biggest moves of the day stemmed from companies that had recently reported quarterly earnings. S&P 500 companies have largely managed to beat analysts' estimates so far in the reporting season--although investors note that expectations were low for the quarter, due to factors including a slowing global economy and a still unresolved U.S.-China trade fight.
UBS expects that, even if the two countries manage this year to strike a firmer deal to roll tariffs back, there will still be "a meaningful slowdown going into the first half of next year," said Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS.
The S&P 500 fell 0.1% Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 32 points, or 0.1%, to 26756.
Semiconductor stocks trailed behind major indexes, with Texas Instruments dropping 7.8% after giving a downbeat outlook for the fourth quarter.
Health-care stocks were mixed: Eli Lilly fell 2.2% after posting revenue that missed analysts' expectations and medical-device maker Boston Scientific climbed 5.4% after it raised its revenue growth target.
Among industrials, Boeing shares added 0.2% after the aerospace giant said profits more than halved in the latest quarter but indicated it still expects its 737 MAX to return to service by the end of the year.
Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 ticked up 0.1% after British lawmakers endorsed the terms of a Brexit agreement but rejected the government's proposed timetable.
The pound, which had fallen sharply after Tuesday's votes, edged up 0.3% against the U.S. dollar.
Parliament's rejection of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's legislative schedule for Brexit reduced the likelihood of a departure by Oct. 31, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. Mr. Johnson said Tuesday that he would try to trigger an election if lawmakers move too slowly in considering his deal.
"There are a lot of moving parts," which makes it hard for investors to position for what happens next, Mr. Hewson said. "We are now in extension territory and we've been in that territory for a while."
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 0.8%, posting its biggest one-day decline since the start of the month, following reports that China is preparing to replace the city's leader, Carrie Lam.
Worries about months of protests in the city and the resulting economic fallout have made the Hang Seng one of the worst-performing indexes in the region this year.
--David Hodari contributed to this article.
Write to Akane Otani at email@example.com and Caitlin Ostroff at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 23, 2019 15:48 ET (19:48 GMT)
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