Stocks Close to Flat in Early Trading

Stocks Close to Flat in Early Trading

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock markets around the world downshifted into neutral on Tuesday, and U.S. indexes were close to flat in early trading. Bond yields were also steady, while the price of oil rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 dipped by 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,325 as of 9:56 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,392. The Nasdaq composite lost 7, or 0.1 percent, to 5,757. The Russell 2000 index of smaller U.S. stocks fell 5, or 0.3 percent, to 1,388.

Roughly three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

TAKING A PAUSE: Indexes are stalling following a strong run driven by stronger-than-expected corporate earnings, an improving economy and expectations for more help for businesses from Washington. On Monday, the S&P 500 rose for the fifth straight day and set a record. It's up 8.6 percent since Election Day.

YELLEN WATCH: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday, and investors are hoping for clues on the direction of interest rates. The central bank raised rates in December for just the second time in a decade. Most investors expect more increases in 2017, but only at a modest pace.

The economy continues to strengthen, which gives the central bank more leeway to raise rates.

INFLATION GAUGE: Inflation has been low across the world for years, but a sharp pickup could force the Federal Reserve into raising rates even more quickly. A government report on Tuesday showed that inflation at the wholesale level was 1.6 percent in January, compared with prices a year earlier. That was in line with economists' expectations, who say overall inflation appears to still be in check.

BOND YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.43 percent, while the 30-year Treasury yield ticked higher to 3.04 percent from 3.03 percent late Monday.

GLOBAL MARKETS: Stocks were relatively steady across the world. In Europe, the German DAX index dipped 0.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 and British FTSE 100 each edged up by 0.1 percent. In Asia, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was close to flat, while the South Korean Kospi index dipped 0.2 percent and the Japanese Nikkei 225 index fell 1.1 percent.

COMMODITY REBOUND: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 64 cents to $53.56 per barrel. A day earlier, it had lost 93 cents. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 75 cents to $56.33 per barrel.

Natural gas fell a penny to $2.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $8.20 to $1,234.00 per ounce, silver added 16 cents to $17.98 per ounce and copper slipped a penny to $2.77 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar held steady at 113.62 Japanese yen. The euro rose to $1.0616 from $1.0600 late Monday, and the British pound dipped to $1.2471 from $1.2529.

(ES)