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* Alphabet falls, day after revenue miss
* Merck, Pfizer rise after earnings beat
* GE jumps on higher profit, slower cash burn
* Indexes: Dow up 0.1%, S&P 500 down 0.01%, Nasdaq off 0.7% (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq fell and S&P 500 was flat Tuesday after hitting all-time highs in the previous session as shares of Google-parent Alphabet tumbled following a revenue miss and Apple dropped ahead of its results.
The two major indexes set records on Monday as investors took comfort from a largely positive earnings season, benign inflation data and hints of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.
Despite the drop, the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq are set to post their best monthly gains since January.
Alphabet Inc shares fell 8.1% and were on track for their worst decline since January 2012, after the company reported its slowest revenue growth in three years.
The S&P communication services sector slid, and was on pace for its biggest percentage fall in over four months.
Apple Inc dropped 1.7% ahead of results after the bell, which will wrap up earnings for the high-growth FAANG stocks.
“The big negative today are questions with regard to some of the large tech stocks. Alphabet’s gotten slapped, and Apple is down. It hasn’t reported yet, but it looks like right now the bet is negative,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
“But all in all, things for the market are looking pretty decent: a friendly Fed, low rates, growing earnings. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
With more than half of the S&P 500 companies reporting, analysts now expect first-quarter earnings to have risen 0.7%, a stark reversal from the 2% fall estimated at the beginning of the month, according to Refinitiv data.
In a big day for healthcare, Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc rose after the drugmakers beat quarterly earnings estimates.
The Fed’s two-day meeting that ends Wednesday will also be in focus for hints on the direction of interest rates.
Limiting losses on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was Chevron Corp. The company’s shares rose 2.1% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc committed $10 billion to Occidental Petroleum Corp’s bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp, boosting its chances of snatching a deal from Chevron.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.26 points, or 0.05%, to 26,568.65, the S&P 500 lost 0.27 points, or 0.01%, to 2,942.76 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 58.68 points, or 0.72%, to 8,103.17.
General Electric Co jumped after the industrial conglomerate’s first-quarter profit rose and its negative cash flow was smaller than expected.
Mastercard Inc rose to a record after the card company beat estimates for quarterly profit.
Perrigo Co Plc slid after a revised notice from the tax authorities proposed additional liability.
Investors will also pay close attention to the next two rounds of U.S.-China trade negotiations. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes to make “substantial progress” with Chinese negotiators.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, a 1.59-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 73 new highs and 37 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)