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Stocks stall as oil slides, investors get defensive

John Wilson, with the NYSE, monitors stock activity

John Wilson, with the NYSE, monitors stock activity on Monday. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

U.S. stock indexes ticked closer to record heights on Tuesday, but the modest moves belied plenty of churning underneath.

Oil prices and energy stocks slumped to give back nearly half of their huge gains from a day earlier. Rising prices for technology stocks and companies that sell to consumers, though, more than made up for those losses. Treasury yields fell a second straight day as the Federal Reserve opened a two-day meeting on interest rates, where investors expect it to announce a cut for the second time in as many months. Crude surged Monday but slumped Tuesday after Saudi Arabia's energy minister said that half of the production at a bombed oil processing facility had been restored within days of the attack.

The S&P 500 rose 7.74 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,005.70. It's back to within 0.7 percent of its record set in late July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33.98, or 0.1 percent, to 27,110.80, and the Nasdaq composite gained 32.47, or 0.4 percent, to 8,186.02.

"We're drifting here a little bit," said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial. "It's interesting to me, and somewhat encouraging, that the market has held up near its all-time highs despite all these concerns."



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