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Industrial, tech companies pull US stocks slightly lower

The New York Stock Exchange, seen on Nov.

The New York Stock Exchange, seen on Nov. 20, 2018. Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

A mostly listless day on Wall Street ended Tuesday with stocks closing slightly lower as losses in industrial, technology and financial stocks outweighed gains elsewhere in the market.

Stocks wavered between small gains and losses through much of the day, with communications companies and retailers bucking the overall market decline. Mixed data on new U.S. home sales pulled homebuilders lower.

The stagnant trading came as investors looked ahead to a busy stretch of economic data releases later this week and the Federal Reserve's next interest rate policy meeting in two weeks. Meanwhile, traders continued to wait for new details on trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Stock prices already reflect the recent investor optimism that the world's biggest economies are close to reaching a deal, noted Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

"We'll know those details when they're announced," he said. "That's part of what the market is digesting."

The U.S. and China have pulled back from an immediate escalation of their damaging trade war since they started negotiating last month. President Donald Trump postponed a deadline for raising tariffs on more Chinese goods, citing progress in a series of talks. Media reports on Monday suggested the nations could strike a deal this month.

The market has often jumped on hopes that progress was being made on the trade talks, only to fall back later as details didn't come through.

"We're going to need some additional news to move higher from here," Northey said.

The S&P 500 index dropped 0.1 percent, to 2,789.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,806.63. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.02 percent, to 7,576.36.

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