U.S. Stocks Slip on Rate Uncertainty; Apple Up After Bell, Twitter Down

Traders gather at the post that trades Intercontinental Exchange Inc. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 26. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

U.S. stocks slipped on Tuesday on uncertainty over the U.S. rate outlook and disappointing results from Ford and other companies.

Upbeat results from Apple after hours, however, could give the market a boost on Wednesday.

Shares of Apple, the biggest company by market capitalization, rose 2.8 percent to $116.89 after it reported higher-than-expected earnings and revenue. Apple's stock ended the regular session down 0.6 percent at $114.55.

Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures NQc1 also edged up after Apple's results.

"Both earnings and revenues were above expectations, which I think was well embraced based on the fact that a lot of companies have been struggling on the top line," said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company, which owns Apple shares.

Also after the bell, shares of Twitter dropped 11 percent to $27.89 after it reported results. Twitter's stock ended the regular session up 1.5 percent at $31.34.

During the regular session, Ford dropped 5 percent to $14.89 after quarterly results missed expectations, while JetBlue Airways Corp fell 3.2 percent to $25.36 after it said it will make less money per mile in October than it did a year ago.

Shares of other airlines also fell, and the Dow Jones transportation average .DJT dropped 2.6 percent.

The Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. While expectations for a rate hike this week are slim, investors are looking for clues in its policy statement on Wednesday as to when the Fed will begin to raise interest rates.

"That's going to be parsed every way possible," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

Casting more doubts on whether the Fed will raise rates this year, data showed U.S. non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, slipped last month after a downwardly revised decline in August.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 41.62 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,581.43, the S&P 500 lost 5.29 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,065.89 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.56 points, or 0.09 percent, to 5,030.15.

Alibaba rose 4 percent to $79.44 after the e-commerce giant reported better-than-expected revenue.

Declines in crude oil weighed further on energy shares, and the S&P energy index .SPNY, down 1.2 percent, led sector declines for the S&P 500.

Healthcare was one of two S&P 500 sectors to end in positive territory for the day. The index .SPXHC was up 1.7 percent after better-than-expected earnings from top drugmakers Pfizer and Merck.

Rite Aid shares jumped 42.6 percent to $8.67. Sources said Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc is nearing a deal to buy the company.

NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 2,293 to 797, for a 2.88-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,003 issues fell and 820 advanced, for a 2.44-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 13 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 122 new lows.

About 7.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.2 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.