S&P, Nasdaq slip from record levels

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq slipped from record highs in a choppy session Tuesday as investors digested a batch of corporate earnings results. A Federal Reserve policy announcement expected Wednesday helped restrain the moves.

Systematic Ventures economist Max Wolff says he sees signs that the market may be nearing a peak.

“I think you’re sort of seeing a lot of topping signals, which I think you’re starting to see in the market, which is yeah, the numbers are still good. But it’s very hard to figure out what sends them higher. And in many cases, it’s really hard to see how they could stay up here. You had some easy comparisons because last year kind of Q1 was disastrous.”

The Dow and the Nasdaq ended just below the breakeven level. The S&P 500 inched nearly two-tenth percent lower. 3M was the Dow’s second leading gainer.

Lower costs and higher demand for hand sanitizers, masks and safety glasses amid the health crisis helped lift its quarterly profit past analysts targets.

Also keeping the blue-chip index from falling further: Johnson & Johnson. The drugmaker said it expects to release data on its COVID-19 vaccine early next week.

After the markets closed, Microsoft reported that quarterly profit jumped 33%, easily beating expectations. Revenue growth at its cloud computing service, Azure, also topped analysts targets as people stayed and studied at home. Shares rose 4.5% after hours.

Shares of Starbucks slid. The world’s largest coffee chain’s comparable sales fell more than expected as the rising number of coronavirus cases kept its U.S. customers at home.