October 20, 2015 / 7:33 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St struggles for direction; healthcare, IBM fall

* IBM slumps after results

* Verizon, Travelers, United Tech up after results

* Harley Davidson shares fall to June 2013 low

* Indexes: Dow up 0.02 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq down 0.5 pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat to lower by late afternoon Tuesday as a drop in healthcare and biotech stocks offset gains in United Technologies and Verizon.

A 5.6-percent drop in IBM also weighed on the market. The stock hit a five-year low after it reported a bigger-than-expected fall in quarterly revenue and cut its full-year profit forecast.

The S&P healthcare sector fell 1.3 percent, dragged down by Allergan and Pfizer.

"You're seeing weakness in momentum names in general. Obviously the healthcare names are under pressure again, especially pharma companies," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Stocks have mostly gained this month following a selloff in the third quarter, though concern about third-quarter earnings has added to caution in recent sessions.

Among those companies beating analysts' expectations, United Technologies rose 4 percent to $95.88, giving the Dow its biggest boost.

Also on the plus side, Verizon's shares were up 1.3 percent at $45.27 after the largest U.S. wireless service provider reported better-than-expected revenue and profit.

At 3:09 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.17 points, or 0.02 percent, to 17,234.71, the S&P 500 lost 1.44 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,032.22 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.03 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,882.45.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen about 4 percent in the third quarter, while revenue is expected to have declined 3.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, roughly 40 percent have beaten revenue expectations, below the long-term average, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Travelers rose 2.6 percent to $109.04. The insurer's quarterly profit topped estimates, helped by higher underwriting gains. Harley Davidson skidded to a two-year low at $47.02 after the motorcycle maker cut its full-year shipment forecast.

Shares of Tesla dropped 8 percent to $209.77 in heavy volume after Consumer Reports magazine found that advanced fuel-saving technology and digital multimedia systems in vehicles including the Tesla Model S sedan are hurting reliability.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,893 to 1,128, for a 1.68-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,393 issues rose and 1,366 fell, for a 1.02-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and 3 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 61 new highs and 47 lows.

Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Nick Zieminski

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