US stocks move lower as earnings reports pour in; Merck jumps after results beat estimates

MarketsAssociated Press

U.S. stocks were moving lower Tuesday morning as investors worked through the latest round of corporate results. Pharmaceutical stocks rose after drug giant Merck reported better-than-expected results.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 104 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,928 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,095. The Nasdaq composite fell 52 points, or 1 percent, to 5,006.

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HEALTHY: Merck rose $2.94, or 5 percent, to $60.03. While the company's profits fell 44 percent from a year ago, the results still handily beat analysts' estimates. Adjusted earnings for the maker of diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet were 85 cents a share versus the 75 cents expected by analysts.

APPLE: The iPhone and computer and maker reported a record quarterly profit of $13.6 billion, but Apple's outlook was not as rosy as some analysts had predicted. Apple fell $2.31, or 2 percent, to $130.29. Apple had a record $193.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet and plans on increasing its dividend and share buyback.

FED WATCH: Much of the focus over the coming two days will be on the Fed's meeting. At the two-day meeting, which ends Wednesday, policymakers are set to discuss when the Fed should start raising interest rates again. The Fed opened the door to rate increases after its March meeting, but some recent weak economic data might complicate that picture.

GREEK HOPES: Investors are continuing to watch negotiations between Greece and its creditors. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras decided Monday to reorganize his negotiating team with European officials, which appears to have eased concerns that a deal will be made before Greece could default. Tsipras also laid out the hope that a deal will be concluded by May 9, two days ahead of a meeting of European finance ministers.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "We may have to wait for a week or two for the deals to be thrashed out but at least the people in charge of the negotiation process are now experienced in these kinds of discussions," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

EURO RISING: One of the clearest indicators of the improving Greek backdrop has been the rise of the euro. The euro rose to $1.0975 from $1.0881 the day before. It hasn't traded above $1.10 since mid-March.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 75 cents to $57.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 60 cents to $65.43 a barrel in London.