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U.S. Stocks Close Mixed Following Lackluster Session

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After moving sharply higher for two straight sessions, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Tuesday. The major averages fluctuated over the course of the session before eventually closing mixed.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 30.14 points or 0.3 percent to 11,334.27 after leading the two-day rally. The S&P 500 also edged down 2.86 points or 0.1 percent to 4,016.95, while the Dow rose 104.40 points or 0.3 percent to 33,733.96.

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

Uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates and the economy may also have kept some traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of some key economic data in the coming days.

A negative reaction to some of the latest earnings news contributed to an early pullback, with 3M (MMM) posting a steep loss after reporting weaker than expected fourth quarter earnings and providing disappointing guidance.

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

Natural gas stocks showed a significant move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index falling by 1.3 percent.

The weakness in the sector came as the price of natural gas for March delivery plunged $0.165 or 5.1 percent to $3.057 per million BTUs.

Tobacco and networking stocks also saw notable weakness on the day, while gold stocks moved higher along with the price the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Tuesday, although most markets remained closed for the Lunar New Year. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index shot up by 1.5 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved to the upside after showing a lack of direction earlier in the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slid 5.6 basis points to 3.469 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Wednesday may be impacted by reaction to the latest earnings news, with Microsoft (MSFT) Capital One (COF) and Texas Instruments (TXN) among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

AT&T (T), Boeing (BA), Kimberly-Clark (KMB) and Norfolk Southern (NSC) are also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Wednesday.

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