Stocks fell for a second day, weighed down by telecommunications and industrial shares, as investors awaited the start of the corporate earnings season.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 55.44 points, or 0.4%, to 13328.85, on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gave up 4.74 points, or 0.3%, to 1457.15, extending its slide from a five-year closing high on Friday. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped seven points, or 0.2%, to 3091.81.
"One thing is clear: Although we are expecting earnings growth, you're just not going to continue to see that stellar double-digit earnings growth that you had seen in the past couple of years," said Joseph Tanious, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan (JPM)
Yum Brands (YUM)
"It's the start of the earnings season and I think a lot of people are concerned about how that will start to shake out," said Randy Bateman, chief investment officer at Huntington Asset Advisors, which manages $14.5 billion in assets.
Congress's last-minute deal to avert mandatory spending cuts and tax increases left a host of issues unresolved, some market watchers have warned, setting the stage for further fighting in Washington that could influence stock prices.
In economic data, the National Association of Independent Business's small-business optimism index for December rose more than economists had expected. U.S. consumers' overall borrowing expanded in November at a quicker pace than the previous month. The growth topped economists' projections.
European markets ended mostly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.1%. Retail sales in the currency area rose in November for the first time since July, while consumer confidence picked up slightly in December. That data was offset by an uptick in euro-zone unemployment to a record.
Asian markets fell on the heels of U.S. weakness on Monday, with Japanese exporters' shares hurt by a stronger yen. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index both shed 0.9%.
Crude-oil prices fell less than 0.1%, to settle at $93.15 a barrel, while gold added 1%, to settle at $1,661.50 a troy ounce. The dollar gained ground against the euro but slipped versus the yen. The 10-year Treasury note rose in price following last week's drop, sending the yield down to 1.871%.
Meanwhile, a New York Stock Exchange server outage interrupted the delivery of certain trade data on dozens of stocks for about an hour Tuesday afternoon, the exchange said in a notice to customers.
In the corporate arena, Monsanto (MON)
Star Scientific (STSI)
Perion Network (PERI)
Acuity Brands (AYI)
Write to Matt Jarzemsky at email@example.com