Wall Street slips on mixed earnings

US stocks close mostly lower as earnings offer uncertain economic outlook, but Nasdaq ekes out narrow gain on Apple boost.

United States stocks closed mostly lower as investors digested a mixed bag of corporate earnings, though the Nasdaq and its tech-dominated shares were buoyed after Apple earnings beat analyst expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 25.50 points, or 0.16%, to 15,542.24 points.

The S&P 500 lost 6.45 points, or 0.38%, to close at 1,685.94 points.

The Nasdaq Composite closed flat, up 0.33 points, or 0.01%, to 3,579.60 points.

Apple shares closed up 5.14%, helping the Nasdaq avoid a fall into negative territory after the company reported that quarterly earnings and revenue beat expectations as iPhone sales offset disappointing iPad sales.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co shares were flat after the company's profit and sales figures beat Wall Street estimates.

However, AT&T, down 1.14%, and Caterpillar, down 2.43%, slipped after their earnings both missed analyst expectations. Boeing shares slipped 0.78% despite the company beating forecasts for both earnings and revenue.

Aside from corporate earnings, investors also digested data showing US new home sales rose 8.3% in June to a seasonally-adjusted annualised rate of 497,000, above the expectations of 485,000. The data offered a reprieve from US housing sector concerns following data from the past week showing US housing starts and existing home sales and prices had missed expectations.

Besides a heavy day of earnings, markets were cheered by a European report on improved private business sentiment.

In the previous session, the Dow had closed at a fresh closing high when it managed to post a 22-point gain, though the S&P broke a four-session winning streak by slipping 0.2%.

The Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index logged 50.4 points, above the 50 points signaling growth and up from 48.7 points in June, giving the highest reading for 18 months.

Stock indices in Britain, France and Germany moved higher.

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