By Chuck Mikolajczak
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday as investors paused following a two-day rally that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the 20,000 mark, while the latest wave of earnings rolled in.
Qualcomm <QCOM.O> weighed on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq as the chipmaker fell 5.0 percent to $54.05 after posting a lower-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue.
The post-election rally reignited this week following a solid start to earnings season and optimism over U.S. President Donald Trump's pro-growth initiatives, giving the benchmark S&P 500 its best two-day performance in seven weeks and catapulting the Dow above 20,000 for the first time.
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Trump's business-friendly decisions since taking office on Friday include signing executive orders to reduce regulatory burden on domestic manufacturers and clearing the way for the construction of two oil pipelines.
Early fourth-quarter earnings have also boosted sentiment and are now expected to show growth of 7 percent, their biggest increase in two years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Of the 146 companies that have reported earnings through Thursday morning, 69.2 percent have topped expectations, compared with the 63.6 percent average since 1994.
"They broke clearly out of a range that they had been stuck in for six weeks so I would say this is just sort of a pause," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
"If all the economic data is good, if the earnings are good and the market doesn’t really seem to think anything (Trump) says or does is negative, I don’t see any downside."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 32.40 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 20,100.91, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 1.69 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,296.68 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 1.16 points, or 0.02 percent, to 5,655.18.
Consumer discretionary <.SPLRCD> stocks, up 0.2 percent, were among the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors. The group was lifted by a 2.8 percent gain in Comcast <CMCSA.O> after the cable operator reported earnings. Charter Communications <CHTR.O> gained 7.4 percent on merger speculation.
Royal Caribbean Cruises <RCL.N> jumped 9.1 percent to $95.64 after it forecast higher-than-expected adjusted earnings for 2017.
Whirlpool <WHR.N> tumbled 8.5 percent to $173.94. The world's largest maker of home appliances posted a quarterly profit below expectations.
After the close, Intel <INTC.O> gained about than 1 percent while Microsoft <MSFT.O> and Alphabet <.GOOGL.O> lost ground after the tech giants posted quarterly results.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.58-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 64 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 150 new highs and 23 new lows.
About 6.70 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.51 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)