After failing to sustain an early move to the upside, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Tuesday. The major averages pulled back off their early highs and have spent the rest of the session bouncing back and across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses on the day. The Dow is down 23.33 points or 0.1 percent at 34,370.65, the Nasdaq is down 13.79 points or 0.1 percent at 13,647.38 and the S&P 500 is down 4.98 points or 0.1 percent at 4,192.07.
The early strength on Wall Street came amid a continued pullback by treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note falling below 1.6 percent.
The drop in yields partly reflects easing worries about inflation and the possibility the Federal Reserve could begin tapering its asset purchases.
While yields remain lower on the day, traders may have been reluctant to continue buying stocks ahead of the release of a reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Fed on Friday.
On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a substantial decrease in new home sales in the month of April.
The report said new home sales slumped by 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 863,000 in April after jumping by 7.4 percent to a significantly downwardly revised rate of 917,000 in March.
Economists had expected new home sales to tumble by 7.0 percent to a rate of 950,000 from the 1.021 million originally reported for the previous month.
A separate report released by the Conference Board showed consumer confidence in the U.S. held steady in the month of May.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index edged down to 117.2 in May after climbing to a revised 117.5 in April.
Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to pull back to 119.5 from the 121.7 originally reported for the previous month.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, although considerable strength is visible among housing stocks. Reflecting the strength in the sector, the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index is up by 1.6 percent.
Airline stocks have pulled back off their best levels of the day but also continue to see notable strength, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index up by 1.2 percent after reaching its best intraday level in well over a month.
On the other hand, energy stocks have shown a significant move to the downside despite a modest increase by the price of crude oil.
Steel stocks have also come under pressure over the course of the session, dragging the NYSE Arca Steel Index down by 1.5 percent.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index soared by 2.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both fell by 0.3 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries are extending the upward trend seen over the past few sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.1 basis points at 1.577 percent.
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