Wall Street mixed in choppy trade

arnings reports in spotlight ahead of next week's Fed policy meeting.

United States stocks are mixed in early afternoon trade following the latest batch of mediocre fourth quarter corporate earnings reports.

At 0500 AEDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 34.33 points, or 0.21%, to 16,380.11.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 1.63 points, or 0.09%t, to 1,845.43, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 18.63 points, or 0.44%, to 4,244.39.

Investors have had little in the way of data or major company earnings to guide them, meaning stocks have fluctuated in a narrow band all day. Highlighting the lack of direction, the S&P 500 has traded in the red on three occasions before climbing back above its closing level yesterday.

The choppy trade is largely due to news in recent days of many companies' quarterly earnings beating expectations on profit, but disappointing on profit outlook, revenue or other key benchmarks.

Dow component IBM fell 3.8 per cent in early trade after beating earnings expectations by 14 cents per share, but falling short on revenue. It released its results at the end of the trading day yesterday.

Companies to watch out for after close today include online video streaming service Netflix and online marketplace eBay, with both companies releasing their fourth quarter earnings numbers.

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