The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day 17.30 points lower, at 8,903.40, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ slipped 24.47 points to 1,555.08.
Stocks spent most of the morning in positive territory, but couldn’t hold on to the early gains in the absence of compelling economic or earnings news to sustain the momentum.
The S&P 500, a staple of 401(k) plans, dropped another 6.01 points to 1,032.76, roughly 0.58%. The Russell 2000 index, which measures the performance of smaller company stocks, fell 6.01 points to 411.66.
Trading volumes on the New York Stock Exchange were back to more normal levels, with 1.653 billion shares changing hands. By the end of the day, declining stocks had expanded their lead, and outpaced advancing stocks by a 19-to-12 margin.
Not surprisingly travel services and insurance sectors bore the brunt of Tuesday’s losses, while airline stocks rebounded some from Monday’s steep sell-off. Financial services stocks were also hit, but technology stocks fared better. Analysts pointed to the potential benefits to the sector as businesses rebuild.
The big news in the bond market was the tumble in the 30-year Treasury bond, which slid 1 11/32 to yield 5.51%. Market participants were shaken by a late Monday announcement that the Treasury Department had done away with its September debt-buyback operations. While Treasury said it was skipping the buybacks due to unsettled market conditions, many saw it as a foreshadowing that budget surpluses are a thing of the past.
The 10-year Treasury note shed 17/32 to yield 4.69%.