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* Microsoft, PayPal propel S&P, Nasdaq higher
* 3M drops on lowered profit outlook, pushes down Dow
* Ford plummets, Tesla soars after results
* Dow off 0.19%, S&P 500 up 0.08%, Nasdaq rises 0.66% (Updates to late afternoon, changes byline, adds NEW YORK to dateline)
By April Joyner
NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 edged higher on Thursday as strong results from Microsoft Corp and PayPal Holdings Inc offset dour results from 3M Co and Twitter Inc.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose on the strength of Microsoft and PayPal shares, while a decline in 3M shares weighed down the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Microsoft shares gained 2.0% as the tech giant's outlook for cloud computing services surpassed analysts' expectations, while PayPal shares rose 8.3% on the payments company's strong full-year earnings forecast. Microsoft and PayPal were the top boosts to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
Shares of 3M dropped after the industrial conglomerate missed third-quarter sales estimates and lowered its full-year profit forecast. The company's U.S. sales dropped 1.1%, and its Asia-Pacific sales fell 5% as industrial production slowed.
Twitter shares plummeted 20.9% after the social networking company's revenue and profit missed estimates, in part due to technical issues with its ad platform. The decline in Twitter shares capped gains on the S&P 500.
The results from 3M pointed to continued fallout from the U.S.-China trade dispute as tariffs have made business conditions uncertain for many companies, analysts said. Other companies, including Caterpillar Inc and Texas Instruments Inc, have attributed weak third-quarter results to trade-related issues.
"It's showing us that the tariff situation continues to be a major concern for companies in how to spend their money," said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
A speech from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday underscored tensions between Washington and Beijing. Pence accused China of curtailing "rights and liberties" in Hong Kong but insisted that the United States does not seek to confront or to "de-couple" from its main economic rival.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 51.39 points, or 0.19%, to 26,782.56, the S&P 500 gained 2.54 points, or 0.08%, to 3,007.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 53.91 points, or 0.66%, to 8,173.70.
Lam Research Corp shares jumped 12.6%, hitting a record high, after the chip equipment maker forecast strong results for the December quarter. Lam Research was the top boost to the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index, which rose 2.2% a day after being pressured by losses in Texas Instruments shares.
Ford Motor Co shares tumbled 6.5% after the automaker cut its profit outlook for the year. By contrast, Tesla Inc shares surged 17.1% after the electric car maker reported a surprise quarterly profit.
Dow Inc shares advanced 3.9% after the chemicals company beat profit estimates, having cut costs to offset a sharp drop in global demand.
Of the 168 S&P 500 companies that have reported results, more than 80% have beaten profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.24-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 56 new highs and 48 new lows. (Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr, Anil D'Silva and Sonya Hepinstall)