Mixed earnings, oil prices lead stocks downward

Tepid corporate results and another drop in the price of crude oil pulled stocks mostly lower on Tuesday.

Major indexes started the day slightly higher, turned lower around noon, then languished until the closing bell. A mixed batch of first-quarter earnings reports offered traders little direction.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.11 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 2,097.29.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 85.34 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,949.59 while the Nasdaq composite gained 19.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,014.10.

British trader charged in 2010 Flash Crash

A futures trader was arrested in Great Britain Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the Flash Crash of 2010 in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 600 points in five minutes.

After the arrest of Navinder Singh Sarao, American authorities – who are seeking Sarao’s extradition– unsealed a federal criminal complaint in Chicago charging him with multiple counts of fraud and manipulation.

The complaint says Sarao, 37, from the west London suburb of Hounslow, used an automated trading program to manipulate the market for E-Mini S&P 500 futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Media companies criticize new Verizon cable deals

Verizon is defending its new, cheaper cable packages that let customers choose groups of channels as media companies protest.

Francis Shammo, Verizon’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call Tuesday that the new packages are allowed “under our existing contracts.”

The plans were rolled out Sunday. They start at $55 a month for a basic tier of 35 channels that include broadcast networks and news as well as Food Network, HGTV and AMC. You also get two themed channel packs, such as sports or lifestyle channels.

ESPN, owned by The Walt Disney Co., objects to the new option, saying ESPN and ESPN2 can’t be in a separate sports package according to its contract with Verizon. Fox Sports says Verizon’s new packages violate agreements and it will continue to talk with the company. NBCUni- versal, owned by Comcast, also says the new FiOS deals violate agreements.