* Indexes on track to break three-week streak of losses
* UPS shares fall after outlook, FedEx also lower
* Materials sector falls, Goldman note weighs
* Dow down 0.2 pct, S&P 500 off 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Lucas Iberico Lozada
NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell modestly on Friday, pressured by some disappointing results from major multinational companies, which offset optimism triggered by the European Central Bank’s recent decision to buy bonds and boost euro zone growth.
Materials shares weighed on the S&P 500, with bearish notes from Goldman Sachs dragging the sector lower. Goldman cut its price target on Freeport McMoRan by 42 percent to $18 and cut prices on other miners, while it slashed price forecasts on commodity prices including aluminum, copper and nickel.
Freeport shares fell 3.2 percent and the materials sector lost 1 percent.
UPS was the largest drag on the S&P 500 after its guidance disappointed while Starbucks and E*Trade Financial jumped on the back of strong results.
Declines were however capped by bullish investor sentiment after Thursday’s move from the European Central Bank, which detailed a bigger-than-expected bond-buying program to lift the region’s sagging economy and fight deflation.
Major U.S. indices are on track to post weekly gains for the first time in four weeks.
“From where we’re sitting, we’re sensing continuation (from last year) - the trend is still the upside,” said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York. “The corrections and the volatility will be a little more pronounced, a little more dramatic, but the trend remains intact.”
At 1:46 p.m. EST (1846 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average fell 31.63 points, or 0.18 percent, to 17,782.35, the S&P 500 lost 1.74 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,061.41 and the Nasdaq Composite added 17.82 points, or 0.38 percent, to 4,768.22.
UPS gave a fourth-quarter earnings outlook that was below expectations, citing a disappointing performance in U.S. domestic ground shipments. Shares slumped 9.5 percent to $103.36 while FedEx Corp, which affirmed its outlook on Friday, lost 2.1 percent to $177.61.
A pair of Dow components reported tepid results. McDonald’s Corp reported a drop in fourth-quarter comparable sales, though the decline was narrower than expected. General Electric reported lower sales in its oil and gas unit, though overall earnings rose.
McDonald’s was down 1.1 percent at $89.92 while GE was up 2.1 percent at $24.79.
With 18 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, 72.2 percent have topped earnings expectations, while 54.4 percent have beaten on revenue, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.
U.S. corporate earnings will likely be the primary driver of trading over the next few weeks. A number of bellwether names have already disappointed, with revenue being a particular area of concern.
Starbucks Corp rose 6.3 percent to $87.99 a day after the coffee chain reported same-store sales growth that was better than expected in its Americas region.
For the week, the Dow is up 1.6 percent, the S&P 500 is up 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq is up 2.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,554 to 1,477, for a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,427 issues fell and 1,231 advanced for a 1.16-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 73 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 79 new highs and 42 new lows. (Reporting by Lucas Iberico Lozada; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)