Wall Street Slumps Amid Mixed Earnings

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The broad-market averages fell into the red on Wednesday as traders analyzed mixed earnings and strong housing data. Rallying tech titan Apple helped keep the Nasdaq's losses in check.

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As of 3:10 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.8 points, or 0.36%, to 15512, the S&P 500 declined 8.5 points, or 0.5%, to 1684 and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 2.3 points, or 0.06%, to 3577.

Apple (AAPL) took the wraps off quarterly results that topped expectations after the closing bell Tuesday. Shares of the world's biggest technology company, which have an outsize impact on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, rallied. AT&T (T) posted narrowly-weaker-than-expected profits, but sales that topped analysts' estimates. 

Boeing's (BA) quarterly results flew past estimates, sending shares of the aerospace giant climbing. However, Caterpillar (CAT) weighed in with disappointing results and a gloomy full-year outlook.

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On the economic front, the Commerce Department said sales of new, single-family homes rose 8.3% in June to an annual rate of 497,000 units, beating expectations of 482,000. It was the highest reading in five years.The housing market has been showing signs of life of late, but the recovery has been choppy. 

The eurozone's private sector unexpectedly shifted into expansion mode, heating up at the swiftest pace in 18 months, according to data from Markit. The report showed the embattled currency bloc's manufacturing sector growing at the quickest rate in two years in what analysts hope is the beginning of a turnaround. 

"The best PMI reading for one-and-a-half years provides encouraging evidence to suggest that the euro area could – at long last – pull out of its recession in the third quarter," Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist said in the report.

However, a report by HSBC showed China's vast manufacturing sector contracting at an even quicker rate in July than the month prior. The government there has put some steps in place to keep the world's No. 2 economy from cooling down too quickly.

The report suggests the "domestic economic weakness driven by deleveraging and tight monetary policy is intensifying and that new orders and new export orders remain in contractionary territory, suggesting more downside pressure on manufacturing production lies ahead," analysts at Nomura wrote to clients. 

In commodities, oil futures dipped 5 cents, or 0.05%, to $107.18 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.1% to $3.062 a gallon. Gold rose $6.70, or 0.5%, to $1,342 a troy ounce. 

Elsewhere, President Barack Obama laid out his plan for creating a "thriving middle class." He called on policymakers from across the board to work together in creating growth and opportunity in America. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 1.2% to 2756, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.82% to 6651 and the German DAX jumped 1.2% to 8410. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dipped 0.32% to 14731 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged up 0.24% to 21969.

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