By Chuck Mikolajczak


NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks declined modestly in a choppy session on Thursday as investors digested the latest round of earnings, with telecoms suffering a sharp drop in the wake of results from Verizon Communications.


Telecoms <.SPLRCL> were down 1.9 percent, on track for their biggest percentage decline in five weeks, as Verizon lost 2.7 percent. The company added fewer than expected wireless subscribers in the third quarter and revenue fell short of expectations.


But a 10.3 percent jump in AmEx <AXP.N> helped offset the decline after the credit card issuer posted strong quarterly results and boosted its 2016 forecast. The gains put the stock on track for its best day in over seven years and helped send the financial sector higher for a third straight session.


Earnings from Bank of New York Mellon <BK.N>, up 4 percent to $42.05, also boosted financials.


"Financials for the most part since the earnings season started have been pretty solid, but telecoms not, therefore they are dragging down the market," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

"It’s not a big up day or a big down day – we’ve been up-and-down, up-and-down all day."

Not all financials were able to provide a lift. Property and casualty insurer Travelers <TRV.N>, dropped 6.1 percent after a steep drop in profit.

Thomson Reuters data earlier this week showed earnings were now expected to show growth for the quarter after companies in the S&P 500 began an earnings recession in the third quarter of 2015. But with about 85 percent of S&P 500 companies left to report, there is still room for earnings to disappoint.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 16.88 points, or 0.09 percent, to 18,185.74, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 2.39 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,141.9 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 7.62 points, or 0.15 percent, to 5,238.79.

The S&P 500 has struggled in recent sessions to climb above its technical resistance level at the 100-day moving average, which currently stands at 2,142.60. The level had acted as support for the index until it broke below the level last week.

Healthcare <.SPXHC> also served to curb declines, led by a 4.5 percent climb in Danaher <DHR.N> after its quarterly results.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.48-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 5 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 51 new highs and 54 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)