Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down Tuesday following a report that said "phase one" of the U.S.-China trade deal may not be signed in November. 
  • The S&P 500 set another record Tuesday, though tech heavyweight Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) was down after missing earnings expectations. Alphabet is Real Money's Stock of the Day.
  • Pfizer (PFE - Get Report)  and Merck (MRK - Get Report) climbed after each posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings and boost full-year profit guidance.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks finished down Tuesday as concerns about a potential snag in the U.S.-China trade talks offset strong earnings from Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) and Merck (MRK - Get Report)  and optimism about a possible rate cut from the Federal Reserve Wednesday -- but not before the S&P 500 set another record.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average wavered during the session before finishing down 19 points, or 0.07%, to 27,071.

The S&P 500 hit an intraday record Tuesday of 3,047.87, before ending down 2 points, or 0.08%, at 3,036.89. The index had ended Monday at an all-time closing high of 3,039.42. The Nasdaq slipped 0.42%, pulled down by shares of Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) .

Reuters reported that "phase one" of the U.S.-China trade agreement may be not be signed next month as expected. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinpin, are scheduled to meet in Chile next month at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

"Progress is being made," the official told Reuters. "If a deal is not signed in Chile, that does not mean U.S.-China talks have fallen apart, just that more time is needed."

Both sides had been expressing guarded optimism about the possibility of a trade deal being signed.

The Federal Reserve is expected Wednesday to cut interest rates by 25 basis points, the third such rate cut in 2019.

"I'm staying focused primarily on shorter-term trades Tuesday, as we await the Fed news Wednesday," said Real Money's James "Rev Shark" Deporre. "I don't know how the market will react to the Fed, but there is a likelihood that the decision will produce increased volatility, and I'll be looking to trade the reactions."

"We've seen periods of economic slowdowns that had three consecutive 25 basis point cuts, most recently in the mid- and late 1990s," said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. "The good news is the economy accelerated after the slowdowns and stocks did quite as well."

Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report)  fell 2.2% to $1,260.66 after Google's parent company posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings as expenses continued to outpace revenue at the sprawling tech giant. Alphabet is Real Money's Stock of the Day.

Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) climbed 2.5% to $38.21 after posting stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings and boosting its full-year profit guidance.

Merck (MRK - Get Report) rose 3.5% to $85.10 after the pharmaceutical company posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings Tuesday and improved its 2019 profit guidance as its key lung cancer treatment, Keytruda, saw sales top $3 billion.

Boeing (BA - Get Report)  rose 2.4% to $348.93 after CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce committee and vowed to make the 737 MAX one of the safest planes in the air. Muilenburg said Boeing was "deeply sorry" for the loss of life from the two 737 MAX crashes, adding that the aerospace giant "deserves this scrutiny" in the aftermath.

Apple (AAPL - Get Report) , which is scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday, was the Dow's biggest loser, followed by Walmart  (WMT - Get Report) and Nike (NKE - Get Report) .

General Motors (GM - Get Report) advanced 4.3% to $38.21 after the biggest U.S. carmaker posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings, but noted a forty-day strike by United Auto Workers union would hit profits by $2.9 billion.

Mastercard ( MA - Get Report) dipped slightly to $274.29 even after posting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings as more businesses and consumers used its "click to pay" option for online purchases.
 
U.S. consumer confidence index slipped to 125.9 in October from last month's reading of 126.3. the Conference Board said, as consumers expressed concerns about business conditions and job prospects. Economists were expecting the figure to reach 128.
 
Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said "confidence levels remain high and there are no indications that consumers will curtail their holiday spending."

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