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U.S. Stocks Close Slightly Lower Following Choppy Trading Day

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Following the rally seen in the previous session, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before eventually closing slightly lower.

While the Dow slipped 96.95 points or 0.3 percent to 33,430.24, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed just below the unchanged line. The Nasdaq edged down 7.21 points or 0.1 percent to 13,698.38 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.97 points or 0.1 percent to 4,073.94.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders expressed some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both ended Monday's trading at record closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq extended last week's rally to reach its best closing level in well over a month.

A quiet day on the U.S. economic front also kept traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

Reports on weekly jobless claims, the U.S. trade deficit and producer price inflation may also attract attention in the coming days along with remarks by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off news the International Monetary Fund raised its global growth projections for this year and next, citing huge fiscal stimulus in some big economies and a vaccine-driven recovery in the future.

The world economy is set to grow 6.0 percent this year and 4.4 percent next year, the global lender said in its latest World Economic Outlook report..

In a January update to the WEO, the IMF had projected growth of 5.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. The latest projections are also stronger than those in the October WEO report.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves on the day, although significant strength was visible among gold stocks. Reflecting the strength in the gold sector, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index climbed by 1.4 percent.

The strength among gold stocks came amid an increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery rising $14.20 to $1,743 an ounce.

Airline stocks also turned in a strong performance on the day, resulting in a 1.1 percent advance by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

On the other hand, semiconductor stocks showed a notable move to the downside, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 1.2 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.3 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.3 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.8 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a notable rebound following the pullback seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slid 6.4 basis points to 1.656 percent.

Looking Ahead

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, potentially shedding additional light on the outlook for interest rates.

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