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U.S. Stocks Turning In Lackluster Performance Ahead Of Powell Testimony

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After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks are turning in a relatively lackluster performance in morning trading on Tuesday. The major averages all moved to the downside at the open, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq has rebounded into positive territory since then.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is up 2.06 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 8,100.44, the Dow is down 97.16 points or 0.4 percent at 26,708.98 and the S&P 500 is down 5.58 points or 0.2 percent at 2,970.37.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make more significant moves ahead of upcoming Congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Powell is due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

The Fed chief is not likely to specifically lay out the central bank's plans to lawmakers, but traders are likely to closely analyze his comments for clues about the outlook for interest rates.

Wednesday will also see the release of the minutes of the Fed's last monetary policy meeting, which may shed additional light on the central bank's decision to make notable changes to its accompanying statement.

A notable drop by 3M (MMM) is weighing on the Dow, with the diversified manufacturer slumping by 2.5 percent after RBC Capital Markets downgraded its rating on the company's stock to Sector Perform from Outperform.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in morning trading, although considerable weakness has emerged among steel stocks.

Reflecting the weakness in the steel sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index has slid by 1.4 percent, extending a recent pullback off the two-month closing high set last Monday.

Tobacco stocks have also shown a significant move to the downside over the course of the morning, dragging the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index down by 1.6 percent.

Chemical and housing stocks are also seeing notable weakness on the day, while biotechnology stocks are rebounding following the drop seen in the previous session.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Tuesday, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and inched up by 0.1 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index has fallen by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are down by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are pulling back once again following the modest rebound seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.1 basis points at 2.065 percent.

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