US stocks edge lower ahead of major earnings reports

US stocks edge lower ahead of major earnings reports
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  • US stocks ended lower on Tuesday as investors awaited earnings reports from tech giants. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite touched record highs earlier in the day.
  • Microsoft is slated to report fiscal second-quarter results when the market closes. Apple and Tesla will report figures on Wednesday.
  • Retail traders continued to boost GameStop, BlackBerry, and other favorites, extending the unorthodox rally that began earlier this month.
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US equities ended lower on Tuesday as investors awaited a slew of earnings reports from large-cap companies. The benchmark S&P 500 hit an intraday all-time high in early trading.

Microsoft kicks off mega-cap earnings after the close. Apple, Tesla, and Facebook are slated to follow later in the week. The companies' heavy weighting in stock indexes practically guarantees their reports will play a major role in whether the broader market will rise or tumble into February.

Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Tuesday:
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Market volatility lingered following a choppy Monday session. Real estate and consumer staples names led the market higher. Energy and materials stocks underperformed.

Sentiments were somewhat pared as hopes for swift stimulus passage under President Joe Biden faded. The president said Monday he's willing to negotiate with Republicans on the package, yet GOP members have largely balked at his plan's $1.9 trillion price tag.

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a measure to lift the minimum wage to $15, a core element of Biden's proposal. The Raise the Wage Act would gradually raise the wage to the new floor by 2025. Gains would then be indexed to median wage growth.

Democrats expressed hopes of garnering support from Republicans but also indicated they would pass the bill through budget reconciliation if no such partnership can be had. Markets also faced pressure from new COVID-19 variants' rapid spread. Both Pfizer and Moderna have said their vaccines show signs of protecting against the strains, but their higher contagiousness threatens to worsen the pandemic before herd immunity is achieved.

Johnson & Johnson and General Electric both gained after reporting better-than-expected quarterly figures Tuesday morning. Verizon slid after subscriber additions landed below Wall Street expectations.

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Retail investors further boosted Reddit-favorites including GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and BlackBerry following Monday's rallies. Posts on online forums such as WallStreetBets boasting outsized gains have fueled momentum for such stocks in recent sessions. Online traders continue to urge each other to buy more shares, aiming to further squeeze short-sellers and lengthen the rally.

Bitcoin moved above $32,000 after nearly surpassing $35,000 in Monday trading. The cryptocurrency has wavered in a narrow trading range over the past week after surging to record highs earlier in the month.

Spot gold sank 0.26%, to $1850.40 per ounce. The US dollar weakened slightly against Group-of-20 currency peers and Treasury yields wavered.

Oil prices erased early gains and slid through the afternoon. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 0.91%, to $52.29 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, dipped 0.86%, to $55.4 per barrel, at intraday lows.
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