Major Averages Close Modestly Lower After Lackluster Session

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Stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Tuesday before ending the day modestly lower. Trading activity was relatively subdued, leading to the lackluster performance.

The major averages ended the day just below the unchanged line. The Dow slipped 39.11 points or 0.1 percent to 35,360.73, the Nasdaq edged down 6.66 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 15,259.24 and the S&P 500 dipped 6.11 points or 0.1 percent to 4,522.68.

Profit taking contributed to early weakness on Wall Street after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended Monday's trading at new record closing highs.

Selling pressure waned over the course of the morning, however, as traders seemed worried about missing out on further upside.

Traders may also be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Conference Board showing a substantial deterioration in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of August.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index tumbled to 113.8 in August from a downwardly revised 125.1 in July.

Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to drop to 123.0 from the 129.1 originally reported for the previous month.

With the bigger than expected decrease, the index slumped to its lowest level since hitting 95.2 in February of 2021.

"Concerns about the Delta variant—and, to a lesser degree, rising gas and food prices—resulted in a less favorable view of current economic conditions and short-term growth prospects," said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

She added, "While the resurgence of COVID-19 and inflation concerns have dampened confidence, it is too soon to conclude this decline will result in consumers significantly curtailing their spending in the months ahead."

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Steel stocks showed a significant move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index slumping by 1.6 percent.

Notable weakness was also visible among transportation stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent drop by the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

On the other hand, gold stocks moved sharply higher on the day, driving the NYSE Gold Bugs Index up by 1.5 percent.

The strength among gold stocks came amid an increase in the price of the precious metal, with gold for December delivery rising $5.90 to $1,818.10 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries moved modestly lower over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 1.9 basis points to 1.304 percent.

Looking Ahead

Reports on private sector employment and manufacturing activity may attract attention on Wednesday, although trading activity may remain somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the more closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

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