Trader Joseph Lawler works on the floor of the New...

Trader Joseph Lawler works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stocks fell for a third straight day Tuesday as investors assessed some disappointing earnings reports.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 47.5 points, about 0.3 percent, at 17,550.7. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.7 points, about 0.2 percent, to 2,093.3. The Nasdaq composite gave up 9.8 points, about 0.3 percent to 5,105.6.

As the markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 64 cents at $46.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Stocks have been trading in a tight range for several weeks as investors wait to see if the economy strengthens sufficiently for the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than nine years.

Investors shouldn't make the mistake though of thinking that the market is in a summer slumber, said analyst Kate Warne, an investment strategist at brokerage Edward Jones.

While energy stocks have plunged in response to falling oil prices, she noted, health care stocks are having another banner year.

"Stocks haven't moved any place, but it's because there's been an equal mix of gainers and losers," says Jones. "What we're seeing is a back-and-forth market, not a doldrums market."

Allstate was among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500. The insurer dropped $7.04, about 10 percent, to close at $62.34 after reporting earnings that fell significantly short of analysts' expectations. The company said its earnings dropped because of more frequent and more severe auto accidents.

NRG Energy dropped $2.23, or 10 percent, to close at $20.04.

A slump in Apple's stock also weighed on the market. Apple dropped for a fifth straight day after falling below a closely followed level that traders use to gauge the momentum of a stock. The iPhone maker closed down $3.80 at $114.64 and has dropped 14 percent since closing at a record $133 on Feb. 23. That puts Apple in a correction, Wall Street parlance for price declines of 10 percent or more from a peak.

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