NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks dodged bigger losses and finished barely lower on Wednesday. Health care companies fell and Apple pulled technology companies down, but banks rose.
Earlier in the day, stocks had appeared to be headed for a second day of notable losses, but they recovered some of that lost ground in late trading. Weak earnings for major companies hurt real estate investment trusts and health care companies. Tech stocks slid as investors were unimpressed with Apple's latest results. Banks continued to report strong earnings and Boeing boosted industrial companies.
Stocks haven't made many big moves the last two weeks. "Trading volume has really dropped off," said Scott Wren, a senior global equity strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. He said investors are being cautious as they wait for the outcome of November's election.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 30.06 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,199.33. In early trading it fell more than 100 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index sank 3.73 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,139.43. The Nasdaq composite shed 33.13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,250.27.
While individual companies might rise or fall based on their earnings, Wren said investors don't care that much if overall corporate profits rise or fall this quarter. Earnings have been falling for more than a year but the drops are getting smaller.
"All the market wants in terms of earnings is a continuation of a pattern this year of quarter-to-quarter improvement," he said.
Apple sank $2.66, or 2.2 percent, to $115.59 after it reported another drop in iPhone sales. Apple gets about two-thirds of its revenue from the iPhone and some investors are concerned it depends too much on its marquee product. The company expects sales to start growing again in the holiday season after a recent slump.
The losses for Apple, by far the biggest company in the S&P 500, sent tech stocks lower. That canceled out big jumps in Akamai Technologies and Juniper Networks, which each surged more than 10 percent after strong results.
Medical device maker Edwards Lifesciences reported disappointing sales of heart devices and forecast another shortfall in the current quarter, and its stock slid $19.43, or 17.1 percent, to $94.25. Medical lab operator Laboratory Corp. of America sank $11.95, or 8.6 percent, to $126.46 after a disappointing report. Drugmaker Merck gave up most of its gains from the previous day and fell $1.08, or 1.7 percent, to $60.87.
Financial firms continued to report strong third-quarter results. Regional bank Huntington Bancshares gained 51 cents, or 5 percent, to $10.70 and insurer Chubb rose $4.55, or 3.7 percent, to $127.
Boeing climbed $6.52, or 4.7 percent, to $145.54 after the company raised its forecast for earnings, revenue, and plane deliveries. Boeing was responsible for all of the Dow's gain.
Simon Property Group, which owns more than 100 shopping malls around the country, slumped after analysts worried about its performance, including lower income from stores that have been open for more than a year. That counteracted solid earnings, and its stock fell $8.89, or 4.5 percent, to $188.38.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.79 percent from 1.76 percent.
Mondelez, the maker of Oreo cookies, Cadbury chocolate and Trident gum, climbed after reporting a bigger profit than analysts expected. The company's stock picked up $1.56, or 3.6 percent, to $44.32.
Southwest Airlines slipped after it gave a weak revenue forecast for the rest of the year. Ticket prices have been falling for two years and Southwest said prices are still "soft." Its stock lost $3.55, or 8.5 percent, to $38.40, and other airlines including American and United also traded lower.
The price of oil fell for the third day in a row. U.S. crude fell 78 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $49.18 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 81 cents, to 1.6 percent, to $49.98 a barrel in London.
Sales for Chipotle Mexican Grill fell for the fourth quarter in a row and came in weaker than analysts expected as the company continued to struggle in its efforts to win back customers after food safety scares. The stock lost $37.65, or 9.3 percent, to $368.02, its lowest price in three years.
Drugmaker Mylan fell after Kaleo Pharmaceuticals said it will resume selling its emergency allergy shot Auvi-Q next year. That would mean more competition for Mylan's EpiPen. Auvi-Q was taken off the market last year because of the potential for inaccurate dosing, leaving EpiPen without any direct competition.
Mylan lost 70 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $38.08. The stock is down 22 percent since mid-August as the company has come under fire for repeatedly raising the price of the EpiPen over the last decade and for overcharging the government for the shot.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slid 2 cents to $1.48 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.55 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell $7 to $1,266.60 an ounce. Silver lost 15 cents to $17.63 an ounce. Copper was little changed at $2.15 a pound.
The dollar inched up to 104.54 yen from 104.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.0906 from $1.0892.
The FTSE 100 of Britain dropped 0.8 percent while Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent and the CAC 40 in France gave up 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.2 percent higher, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1 percent and South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1 percent.