Fourth-quarter earnings continued to be generally positive, but US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' comments that the United States and China were "miles and miles" from reaching a trade agreement curbed investor enthusiasm.
Still, even in the face of upbeat corporate results, fears surrounding tariffs and the longest federal government shutdown in history weighed on investors.
With nearly one-fifth of S&P 500 companies having reported, 75.3 percent have surpassed Street estimates. Analysts now see S&P profit growth of 14.2 percent for the quarter.
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