Shaky results from consumer companies dragged the US stock market lower on Tuesday as well-known names like appliance maker Whirlpool and athletic apparel maker Under Armour suffered their worst losses in years.
Third-quarter earnings continued to dominate the market and some of the biggest companies either reported disappointing results or lowered their expectations. Investors wondered if consumers will spend less money on home improvement, clothing and other goods.
But companies including Procter & Gamble and Lockheed Martin soared after their reports. Looking for safer options, some investors bought bonds and utility company shares.
Consumer spending is critical to the U.S. economy and poor results for consumer-focused companies could be a sign of trouble. But Doug Roman, managing director of equities for PNC Capital Advisers, said it is too soon to know if shoppers are closing their wallets.
"The market might be extrapolating bigger stories into broader themes, which might not be the case," he said. Corporate earnings have been falling for more than a year, and despite Tuesday's results, investors are growing hopeful that streak is ending.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 53.76 points, or 0.3%, to 18,169.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 8.17 points, or 0.4%, to 2,143.16. The Nasdaq composite fell 26.43 points, or 0.5%, to 5,283.40.
Paint and coatings maker Sherwin-Williams posted a disappointing profit and cut its annual guidance because of slower sales growth combined with spending on new stores.
Meanwhile appliance maker Whirlpool's results fell far short of analyst projections. Sherwin-Williams had its worst day in seven years as it lost 30.27 dollars, or 10.9%, to 247.61 dollars. Whirlpool, which owns Maytag and KitchenAid, sank 18.37 dollars, or 10.8%, to 152.09 dollars, its largest loss in five years.
Home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe's and flooring maker Mohawk Industries all slumped. So did carmaker General Motors, which reported solid earnings.
Under Armour reported its slowest sales growth in six years and said its future sales will not be as strong as it expected a year ago. Its stock tumbled 5.01 dollars, or 13.2%, to 32.89 dollars, its biggest drop in almost eight years. Rival Nike also slipped.
Procter & Gamble, which makes Tide detergent and Charmin toilet paper, had its best day in more than a year after it reported better results than investors expected. The consumer products giant has been selling some businesses to cut costs, and it posted stronger sales of personal care products like toothbrushes and deodorants. Its stock rose 2.87 dollars, or 3.4%, to 86.97 dollars.
Aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin surpassed investor forecasts and raised its projections for the year. Its stock gained 17.10 dollars, or 7.4%, to 249.26 dollars, its biggest leap in seven years.
The reports continued to stream in after the market closed. Apple reported lower quarterly sales and sold fewer iPhones, sending its stock down about 2% in late trading. The company did give a better-than-expected forecast for the holiday season.
Oil and gas drilling services company Baker Hughes disclosed a smaller loss than investors expected. Investors were also pleased that Baker Hughes is preparing to cut more costs. The company said it plans to eliminate 650 million dollars in spending this year, up from the 500 million dollars it had planned to cut. It climbed 2.24 dollars, or 4.3%, to 54.39 dollars.
Waters Corp, which makes products used in drug development, announced weak revenue as demand from governments, research institutions and industries fell. The stock slid 19.15 dollars, or 12.1%, to 138.60 dollars.
Drugmaker Merck raised its forecasts after it reported a bigger profit on greater sales of vaccines and cancer medicines. The company has also been trying to keep is spending in check. The stock rose 1.20 dollars, or 2%, to 61.95 dollars.
3M, which makes Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics, forecast weaker sales growth and a smaller profit for the year. The stock declined 5.04 dollars, or 2.9%, to 166.23 dollars.
Elevator and jet engine manufacturer United Technologies raised its annual forecast after its third-quarter profit surpassed analyst estimates. Its stock gained 1.84 dollars, or 1.8%, to 101.36 dollars.
Media and marketing information company Nielsen took its biggest loss ever after it reported shaky results and cut its guidance. Nielsen stock tumbled 9.28 dollars, or 16.9%, to 45.65 dollars.
Benchmark US crude lost 56 cents, or 1.1%, to 49.96 dollars per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 67 cents, or 1.3%, to 50.79 dollars a barrel in London.
Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.76% from 1.77%. Investors also bought shares of utility companies.
In other energy trading, wholesale petrol stayed at 1.50 dollars a gallon. Heating oil lost two cents to 1.56 dollars a gallon. Natural gas sank six cents, or 2%, to 2.77 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.
The price of gold rose 9.90 to 1,273.60 dollars an ounce. Silver jumped 18 cents, or 1%, to 17.78 dollars an ounce. Copper rose five cents, or 2.2%, to 2.14 dollars a pound.
The dollar slipped to 104.22 yen from 104.24 yen. The euro rose to 1.0892 from 1.0879 dollars.
In Britain the FTSE 100 rose 0.4% while France's CAC 40 lost 0.3% and the Dax in Germany was little changed. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.2%.