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Stocks edge lower as investors weigh earnings, sales data

Stocks edged lower in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors weighed the latest batch of corporate earnings and a weak report on retail sales.

Surprisingly good earnings and hopeful forecasts were the main drivers of a market rally on Tuesday, but investors were less enthusiastic about the latest round of results.

The Commerce Department also reported that retail sales dropped in September by the largest amount in seven months, raising concerns that consumer spending is being hurt by rising trade tensions.

A broad slide in technology stocks pushed the market lower. Software maker Adobe fell 3.4% and Microsoft fell 1.1%. Utilities, consumer product makers and real estate companies also fell in the early going.

General Motors rose 1% a day after CEO Mary Barra joined company negotiators at the bargaining table, which raised investors' hopes that a deal may be close for ending a monthlong strike.

Financial stocks held up better than the rest of the market thanks in part to a solid earnings report from Bank of America. Major banks had rallied a day earlier after JPMorgan Chase turned in an impressive earnings report.

Investors are waiting on several other important corporate earnings reports Wednesday. Railroad operator CSX, entertainment company Netflix and IBM will all report results later in the day.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59 points, or 0.2%, to 26,964. The Nasdaq fell 0.5%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks held up well as the broader market slid. It gained 0.2%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.76% from 1.77% late Tuesday.

EARNINGS REWARDED: Bank of America rose 2.1% after beating Wall Street's third-quarter profit forecasts. The bank was able to grow loans quite noticeably in the quarter, despite worries about a slowdown in borrowing from businesses and consumers.

United Airlines rose 1.5% following its report late Tuesday that cheaper jet fuel and slightly higher fares drove a surge in profit that beat analyst's forecasts. The company also raised its own profit forecast for the year.

EARNINGS PUNISHED: Abbott Laboratories fell 2.1% after the maker of infant formula, medical devices and drugs trimmed its profit forecast. The company's third-quarter revenue also fell short of Wall Street expectations.

OPIOID SETTLEMENT: A potential settlement deal in the opioid epidemic lifted stocks for several drug distributors. McKesson rose 5.7%, AmerisourceBergen rose 5.1% and Cardinal Health rose 4.8%.

The companies are defendants in the first federal trial over the epidemic. They are discussing a deal that would have them collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe edged lower. The European Commission's statistics agency revised inflation figures for September in the 19 nations using the euro to its lowest rate in nearly three years. Low inflation can be a sign of economic weakness and has been a concern the European Central Bank.

Britain's pending Oct. 31 exit from the European Union continues to loom over broader economic growth concerns. European Union and British negotiators failed to reach a breakthrough during a frantic all-night session and will continue seeking a compromise on the eve of Thursday's crucial European Union summit.

Markets in Asia moved higher.