U.S. stocks were little changed when markets closed Tuesday as banks traded lower and department stores, apparel retailers and handbag makers slide.
Investors are taking a slightly more cautious stance on the health of the U.S. economy after the report of weak car sales in March. Energy companies are rising with the price of oil and major stock indexes haven’t moved much.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 1.3 points, about 0.06 percent, to 2,360.2.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points, about 0.2 percent, to 20,689.2. The Nasdaq composite added 3.9 points, about 0.07 percent, to 5,8986.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude was up 81 cents at $51.05 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in Manhattan. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.02 to $54.14 a barrel.
INVESTORS WAIT: Trading was quiet Tuesday as investors awaited a series of reports on the U.S. economy this week and the meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping starting Thursday.
BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.35 percent from 2.33 percent. However banks took losses for the second day in a row following a sharp drop in bond yields on Monday. Lower bond yields force interest rates on loans lower, which cuts into banks’ profits. KeyCorp slid 18 cents, or 1 percent, to $17.56 and Discover Financial Services lost 98 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $66.97.
RETAIL SLUMP: Ralph Lauren dropped $3.99, or 4.9 percent, to $77.38 after it said it will close stores and cut jobs in an effort to save money. The company will close its Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan less than three years after it opened. Urban Outfitters lost 87 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $22.33 after it said sales at older stores have fallen over the last two months.
Other retailers also lost ground. Department store Kohl’s fell $1.53, or 3.9 percent, to $37.62 and Gap shed 62 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $23.09. Online rival Amazon gained $13.89, or 1.6 percent, to $905.40.
Handbag and accessories maker Kate Spade slumped after Reuters said the company will take more time to negotiate a possible sale. The report cited anonymous sources and said that if Kate Spade is sold to a buyer like Michael Kors or Coach, it will likely be for less than the company’s recent valuation of $2.9 billion. Kate Spade sank $3.30, or 14.5 percent, to $19.50.
WEAK CAR SALES: Automakers including Ford and General Motors reported disappointing sales for March in a sign that does not bode well for U.S. consumer spending. U.S. auto sales fell for a third straight month, by 1.6 percent to just over 1.55 million vehicles, as passenger car sales dropped. Analysts had expected a small increase.