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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 0.2%, S&P 500 up 0.1%, Nasdaq off 0.7% (Updates to close)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq fell on Tuesday as shares of Google-parent Alphabet tumbled following a revenue miss and Apple dropped, though the S&P 500 eked out another record closing high.
All three major indexes posted their best monthly percentage gains since January, wrapping up a month that brought the S&P 500 and Nasdaq back to record-high territory and helped to restore investors’ belief in the decade-long bull run.
A less-worse-than-expected earnings season, positive economic data and hints of progress in U.S.-China trade talks have helped drive the recent gains.
Weighing on the Nasdaq Tuesday and limiting gains in the S&P 500, Alphabet Inc shares fell 7.5% 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 2.5%, dragged down by Alphabet, and registered its biggest percentage fall in about four months.
“The big negative today are questions with regard to some of the large tech stocks. Alphabet’s gotten slapped, and Apple is down,” 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.”
Apple shares dropped 1.9% during the session, but reversed course and were trading up 4.3% after the bell following the release of its results. S&P 500 e-mini futures also jumped after Apple’s results and were last up 0.4%.
With more than half of the S&P 500 companies reporting, analysts now expect first-quarter earnings to have risen slightly, a stark reversal from the 2% fall estimated at the beginning of the month, according to Refinitiv data.
During the regular session, Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc rose more than 2% each after the drugmakers beat quarterly earnings estimates.
The Fed’s two-day meeting that ends Wednesday will be in focus for hints on the direction of interest rates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average also ended higher, helped by gains in Chevron Corp. The company’s shares rose 2% 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 38.52 points, or 0.15%, to 26,592.91, the S&P 500 gained 2.8 points, or 0.10%, to 2,945.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 54.01 points, or 0.66%, to 8,095.39.
For the month, the Dow rose 2.6%, the S&P 500 gained 3.9% and the Nasdaq added 4.9%.
General Electric Co jumped 4.5% after the industrial conglomerate’s first-quarter profit rose and its negative cash flow was smaller than expected.
Mastercard Inc rose 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 1.20-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 78 new highs and 45 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.22 billion shares, compared to the 6.56 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. (Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Phil Berlowitz)