US stocks hunt for direction as investors look ahead to earnings, Yellen – MarketWatch

U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday, with major indexes moving less than 0.1% in either direction as Wall Street appeared to be holding off on making big bets ahead of key events later this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.14% was trading flat at 21,407. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.01%  fell 3 point to 2,426. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.26%  was off 4.6 points to 6,172.

The overall trend on the day was lower, with eight of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors down on the day, albeit by slender amounts. The biggest loser was material shares, which lost 0.3%, while health care was up 0.1%.

Wall Street has risen firmly this year, with the Dow and S&P both up more than 8% thus far in 2017. The Nasdaq’s advance has been sharper, up almost 15%, boosted by an extended rally in large-capitalization technology shares, a sector that has pulled back recently.

With all three indexes within a couple of percentage points of records, traders are looking for confirmation that current levels are justified by economic fundamentals and monetary policy.

“Forex and equities markets seem to have entered into another bout of wait-and-see trading as the moves of recent days begin to settle down,” said Richard Perry, a Hantec Markets analyst, in a note.

“This comes ahead of some key market-moving events towards the end of the week,” Perry added, referring to Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen’s appearances before U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as Friday’s releases covering inflation and retail sales.

See also: Is Janet Yellen still calling the tune in financial markets?

Trading may also be light ahead of the start to the next earnings season. Key companies, including such major banks as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.24% and Citigroup Inc. C, -0.81% are scheduled to report on Friday. By and large, financials are expected to post mediocre trading revenue this quarter.

Individual movers: Shares in PepsiCo Inc. PEP, -0.62%  fell 0.9% despite the producer of snacks and soft drinks posting better-than-expected earnings. Inc.’s stock AMZN, -0.48%  slipped 0.5%. The online retailer will be in view as its Prime Day promotion is in full swing on Tuesday.

See: 6 money-saving tips for Amazon Prime Day—even if you’re not a member

And read: Amazon is taking away brands’ power, throwing another industry into turmoil

Amicus Therapeutics Inc. FOLD, +27.00%  surged 23% in heavy trading after the Food and Drug Administration cleared the company to submit a new drug application for its Fabry disease treatment.

Halcon Resources Corp. HK, +41.70%  soared 37% after it agreed to sell its Williston Basin assets to a unit of Bruin E&P Partners for $1.4 billion in cash.

Other markets: Most Asian markets closed with gains on Tuesday, while European stocks SXXP, -0.41% were largely lower. Oil futures CLQ7, +0.72%  moved down after Monday’s rally. Gold futures GCQ7, -0.40%  also slipped, and a key dollar index DXY, -0.04% inched higher.

Economic news: A June reading on small-business sentiment arrived before the opening bell, showing a decline. It’s the fifth month in a row without an increase.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, May figures for job openings and wholesale inventories are expected to arrive.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

On the Fed front for Tuesday, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard is due to give speech on monetary policy at 12:30 p.m. Eastern at a New York Fed conference. At 1:20 p.m. Eastern, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is scheduled to take part in a Q&A at the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable.

More from MarketWatch

More Coverage