Stocks shook off an early slide and wound up little changed Wednesday as worries about corporate profits weighed on the market. The S&P 500 fell 0.73 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,016.22. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.88 points, or less than 0.1%, to 33,743.84. The Nasdaq composite fell 20.91 points, or 0.2%, to 11,313.36. The mixed finish came after the S&P 500 roared back from a morning loss of 1.7%, the AP reports. Worries are rising that corporate profits are set to shrink broadly because of a slowing economy, higher interest rates, and still-high inflation.
Such big swings have been common on Wall Street as markets work through a couple of competing big ideas. On one hand, worries are rising about weakening profits and an economy bending under the weight of hikes to interest rates by the Federal Reserve. On the other are hopes that the economy can avoid a severe recession and that cooling inflation will get the Fed to take it easier on rates. "There’s this Jekyll and Hyde market day to day," says Anthony Saglimbene, chief market strategist at Ameriprise. "What narrative is driving the market: a soft landing or harder landing?"
In the morning, the latter was driving trading. Microsoft helped to lead the way lower after giving a forecast for upcoming results that fell short of some analysts’ expectations. They pointed in particular to expectations for slowing growth in its Azure cloud business. Microsoft fell as much as 4.6% in the morning before paring its loss to 0.6%. Its weaker-than-expected forecasts also helped drag down other stocks in the cloud-computing industry in the morning. Snowflake fell as much as 7.9%, for example, before it also pared its loss to 1%. Texas Instruments fell 1.1% despite reporting stronger profit and revenue for its latest quarter than expected. On the winning side was AT&T, which rose 6.6% after reporting stronger profits than forecast. (Read more stock market stories.)