Stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after moving modestly lower at the open. The choppy trading comes after profit taking dragged stocks modestly lower in the previous session.
The major averages are currently posting modest losses, well off their worst levels of the day. The Dow is down 1.62 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 13,551.48, the Nasdaq is down 2.02 points or 0.1 percent at 3,176.65 and the S&P 500 is down 2.35 points or 0.2 percent at 1,458.84.
The lackluster performance on Wall Street comes as traders express uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recent strength.
While some traders are looking to cash in on the recent gains, which drove the major averages to multi-year highs, others seem reluctant to sell stocks and miss out on any further upside.
Varying opinions on the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve's recently announced third round of quantitative easing may be helping to keep traders on the sidelines.
The markets have largely shrugged off a report from the National Association of Home Builders showing that homebuilder confidence improved for the fifth consecutive month in September and reached a six-year high.
The report showed that the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 40 in September from 37 in August. Economists had been expecting the index to show a more modest increase to a reading of 38.
With the much bigger than expected increase, the index rose to its highest level since coming in at 42 in June of 2006.
Among individual stocks, shares of FedEx (FDX: Quote) have come under pressure on the day, with the delivery giant falling by 2.1 percent after cutting its full-year earnings guidance.
FedEx reported first quarter earnings that came in above its downwardly revised guidance but said it now expects to report full year earnings of $6.20 to $6.60 per share compared to its previous forecast for $6.90 to $7.40 per share.
Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD: Quote) is also posting a notable loss after Thomas Seifert informed the company of his decision to resign as senior vice president and chief financial officer to pursue other opportunities.
Meanwhile, shares of Dole (DOLE: Quote) are moving higher after the food company said it has agreed to sell its worldwide packaged foods and Asia fresh produce businesses to Japanese trading company Itochu Corp. (ITOCY) for $1.7 billion in cash.
While most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, considerable weakness is visible among airline stocks. Reflecting the weakness in the airline sector, the NYSE Arca Airline Index has fallen by 2.3 percent, pulling back further off last Thursday's nearly two-month closing high.
Republic Airways (RJET: Quote) has helped to lead the airline sector lower, with the regional airline down by 6.1 percent after ending the previous session at its best closing level in almost a month.
Oil service stocks have also come under pressure on the day, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 1.4 percent. The weakness in the oil service sector comes as the price of crude oil is seeing further downside after tumbling by more than $2 a barrel on Monday.
Meanwhile, tobacco stocks have shown a strong move to the upside over the course of the trading session, driving the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 1.3 percent. British American Tobacco (BTI: Quote) and Lorillard (LO: Quote) are posting standout gains.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.3 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index dropped by 0.8 percent and the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved notably higher, climbing further off their recent lows. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.5 basis points at 1.793 percent.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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