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S&P 500 slips from record close as Caterpillar and AT&T fall on earnings

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Overall we don't think there is a recession in the near term, says CIO

Stocks slipped from record levels on Wednesday as Wall Street digested a mixed batch of corporate earnings.

The Nasdaq Composite ended the day down 0.2% at 8,102.01 after hitting an intraday record. The S&P 500 also dipped 0.2% to 2,927.25 as the energy and communication sectors underperformed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 59.34 points lower at 26,597.05.

Caterpillar shares fell 3% despite the company posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The industrial giant's CFO warned of a possible slowdown in its China business, overshadowing Caterpillar's strong report.

AT&T, meanwhile, fell more than 4% after posting first-quarter revenue numbers that disappointed investors. The company's revenue was dragged down by weak sales in its WarnerMedia division.

Domino's Pizza, meanwhile, rose 4.9% on stronger-than-forecast quarterly results. Shares of eBay also gained 5% on earnings that topped expectations.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highs in the previous session, boosted by strong corporate earnings results from companies like United Technologies, Coca-Cola and Twitter on Tuesday.

New York, USA - May 8, 2018: Wall Street sign near New York Stock Exchange with flags of the United States. It is the world's most significant financial center.
ymgerman | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

The indexes reached records less than six months after a massive drop in December, which led to Wall Street's worst year since the financial crisis. But a pivot by the Federal Reserve in monetary policy away from higher rates and the cooling of trade tensions between China and the U.S. helped stocks rally from those lows.

Technology led the comeback, rising more than 36% since Christmas Eve. Xerox is the best-performing stock in the sector since then, rising about 80%.

"Right now, it feels like there's some FOMO [fear of missing out] going on," said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. "That's what's pushing us up in this last leg." 

"I think we're going to see a consolidation at some point," he said. "It's not to say we need a major pullback; I just think we need to consolidate the gains a little bit. That may happen with what comes out with some of the bigger tech names."

Facebook and Microsoft are among the companies set to report later on Wednesday, while Amazon is scheduled to release its results on Thursday.

Nearly 130 S&P 500 companies reported calendar first-quarter earnings through Tuesday morning. Of those companies, 78% have reported better-than-forecast profits, according to Refinitiv.

Investors are closely watching this corporate earnings season amid fears of contracting profits. Analysts polled by FactSet came into the season expecting a 4.2% decline in S&P 500 earnings. The earnings growth rate of the companies that have reported so far is nearly 2.4%, according to FactSet.

"If there's an earnings recession out there, it's hard to see in the latest batch of earnings reports," Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, wrote in a note.

—CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.