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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Ankika Biswas and Johann M Cherian

(Reuters) -The benchmark was subdued on Tuesday as investors assessed earnings reports from legacy companies United Parcel Service (NYSE:) and General Motors (NYSE:), as well as data that signaled a mixed labor market.

United Parcel Service slumped 7.8%, after the package delivery giant forecast annual revenue below estimates.

The Dow Jones Transport Average index fell 0.9% to a one-week low after FedEx (NYSE:) also dropped 1.8%, and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:) shed 6.5% following its bleak first-quarter forecast.

Meanwhile, General Motors jumped 6.6% after the automotive firm forecast upbeat earnings for 2024 and signaled more capital return to shareholders. Automaker Ford Motor (NYSE:) also gained 1.6%.

After the Labor Department’s report showed U.S. job openings unexpectedly rose in December among other things, the focus will now be on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting during the day.

Investors are awaiting the policy decision from the Fed, which is widely expected to leave the key benchmark rate unchanged at 5.25% to 5.50%, and clues on when it could commence rate cuts.

“The Fed should not be cutting rates nearly as much as what the markets are thinking. My biggest fear is that they do cut rates and then inflation starts to pick back up again,” said Paul Nolte, senior wealth adviser and market strategist at Murphy & Sylvest.

While high hopes of nearing rate cuts have supported a steep ascent in megacaps recently, quarterly company earnings will be key in rationalizing the rich valuations of the momentum stocks after Tesla (NASDAQ:) and Intel (NASDAQ:)’s bleak forecasts last week.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:) dipped 0.7% and Microsoft (NASDAQ:) was flat ahead of results expected after market close. Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ:) fell 1.5%, dragging the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

While the impact of generative AI is expected to steer the best revenue growth in nearly two years for Microsoft, the effect is likely to be muted for Alphabet’s advertising business.

About 78.5% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings thus far have surpassed expectations, compared with a long-term average of 67%, according to LSEG data.

The benchmark S&P 500 has notched several new records this month, including a fresh one on Tuesday.

At 11:42 a.m. ET, the was up 35.88 points, or 0.09%, at 38,369.33, the S&P 500 was down 1.08 points, or 0.02%, at 4,926.85, and the was down 63.54 points, or 0.41%, at 15,564.50.

Real-estate was the worst hit among the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes.

Citigroup and Bank of America rose over 3% following rating upgrades from Morgan Stanley, pushing the S&P 500 banks index up 1.8%.

Johnson Controls (NYSE:) dropped 4.4% after the Ireland-based firm lowered its full-year profit expectations, while MSCI advanced 11.1% after the index provider posted a higher fourth-quarter profit.

Super Micro Computer (NASDAQ:) jumped 3.1%, after the server seller projected stronger-than-expected quarterly sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.47-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.02-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 55 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 101 new highs and 53 new lows.

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