Stocks on Wall Street have closed little changed, with the Dow and S&P 500 dipping on disappointing earnings and little hope for a US coronavirus stimulus before election day although the Nasdaq rose ahead of big technology company results.

Investor sentiment sagged after the White House said a deal on COVID-19 relief could come in “weeks,” meaning a deal is unlikely before the November 3 election.

But the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose as Microsoft Corp firmed in the run-up to its results after the closing bell and the technology heavyweights supported the S&P500.

Shares of drug maker Eli Lilly and Co fell after quarterly profits took a hit from increased costs to develop a COVID-19 treatment and after a trial of its antibody therapy failed to show a benefit in hospitalised patients.

“This pullback that we’ve seen is a little bit more of a risk-off move as an additional stimulus package now has been pushed aside,” Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree Investments, said.

“That led to some disappointment.”

On Monday, the three major US stock indexes posted their biggest declines in about four weeks on a record number of new coronavirus cases in the United States and some European countries, and as the elusive stimulus rattled investors.

Sectors sensitive to economic growth took a hit, with both the S&P 500 banks index and the S&P energy sector closing lower.

Meanwhile, Wall Street’s fear gauge hovered at its highest level since early September on election jitters.

Democratic challenger Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in US polls but the race is much tighter in battleground states which should determine the outcome.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 221.37 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 27,464.01, the S&P 500 lost 10.23 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 3,390.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 72.41 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 11,431.35.

The Nasdaq rose in anticipation of results later this week from Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Google-parent Alphabet and Facebook Inc.

The tech bellwethers together account for about a fifth of the S&P 500’s total value.

The NYSE FANG+TM Index rose about 1.69 per cent.

Analysts expect the tech sector to post a 0.4 per cent increase in third-quarter earnings from a year earlier, while overall S&P 500 profit is forecast to fall 16.2 per cent, according to Refinitiv data.

Concerns over a rise in US coronavirus cases are weighing on the market but the technology sector seems to be the least exposed, said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

“A focus on big technology companies may move this market to rally despite the problems the virus is creating,” he said.

Semiconductor designer Advanced Micro Devices Inc fell as it agreed to buy Xilinx Inc in a $US35 billion ($A49 billion) all-stock deal.

Xilinx shares soared, the largest gainer on the Nasdaq 100, while those of AMD-rival Intel fell.

Insurer American International Group Inc gained after its board named Peter Zaffino as chief executive officer and approved a plan to separate the life and retirement business from the rest of the company.