* United Airlines gains on upbeat Q2 profit forecast

* Travelers falls after Q1 profit miss

* Indexes: Dow up 0.03%, S&P off 0.34%, Nasdaq 0.74%

NEW YORK, April 17 (Reuters) -

U.S. stocks fell in choppy trading on Wednesday as investors assessed the Federal Reserve's interest rate stance and a batch of soft earnings early in the financial reporting season.

Travelers tumbled 7.45% as one of the biggest drags on the S&P 500 and largest on the Dow Industrials after the insurance giant missed Wall Street expectations for first-quarter profit.

Also weighing on the benchmark S&P index after quarterly results were


, with the warehouse-focused real estate investment trust down 6.25%, and

Abbott Laboratories

, which fell 2.98% after topping quarterly estimates but disappointing on its annual forecast.

Equities have struggled after a strong first-quarter rally, with the S&P 500 on track for its fourth straight session of declines and third straight weekly loss as investors have dialed back expectations for the timing and size of the Fed's rate cuts.

On Tuesday, U.S. central bank officials including Fed Chair Jerome Powell backed away from providing guidance on when rates may be cut, saying instead that monetary policy needs to be restrictive for longer.

"The markets are dealing with a couple things - inflation is hotter than most expect, rate cut expectations are coming down and we've had a ramp higher in geopolitical tensions, particularly out of the Middle East," said Anthony Saglimbene, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Michigan.

"It's just an excuse for traders to kind of move to the sidelines and markets to kind of take a breath after a really, really strong five months of gains."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 11.92 points, or 0.03%, to 37,810.89. The S&P 500 lost 16.98 points, or 0.34%, at 5,034.47 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 118.51 points, or 0.74%, to 15,747.35.

Fed Board Governor Michelle Bowman and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are scheduled to speak later in the day.

The Fed's Beige Book survey of economic activity showed a slight expansion from late February through early April and companies feared that progress in lowering inflation would stall.

After market participants began to largely price in a June cut from the Fed, expectations for a cut of at least 25 basis points have shriveled to 16.8%, and for a July cut to 46%, CME's FedWatch Tool showed.

Stocks pared losses as U.S. Treasury yields eased further from the previous day's multi-month highs following a strong auction of 20-year bonds, with the 10-year note last around 4.58%.

On the bright side, United Airlines surged 16.05% after it forecast stronger-than-expected current-quarter numbers, helping to boost the NYSE Arca airline index by 3.45%.

JB Hunt Transport Services slumped 8.63% after the trucking firm missed Wall Street estimates for first-quarter results.

U.S. Bancorp dropped 3.43% after the lender cut its forecast for full-year interest income and reported a 22% fall in first-quarter profit.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq, declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 1.11 to 1.

The NYSE recorded 18 new 52-week highs and 87 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 196 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Richard Chang)