Energy companies led U.S. stocks modestly lower Tuesday, erasing the small gains the market made a day earlier.
The biggest drop in crude oil prices since October weighed on oil producers and other energy stocks. Disappointing results or outlooks from retailers and other companies also weighed on the market.
Utilities and consumer-focused companies like packaged food and beverage makers, restaurant chains, bucked the trend. Investors had their eye on Washington D.C., where the House is expected to vote on its version of a major tax bill this week. Expectations that the tax overhaul will sharply lower corporate taxes have helped lift the market higher this year.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.97 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,578.87. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 30.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,409.47. The Nasdaq composite slid 19.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,737.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 3.81 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,471.26.
The steep drop in crude oil prices weighed on oil exploration companies and other energy sector stocks.
Newfield Exploration was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, tumbling $2.27, or 7.1 percent, to $29.82. Range Resources lost $1.23, or 6.6 percent, to $17.35.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.06, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $55.70 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the biggest singledecline since October. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 95 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $62.21 a barrel in London.
The market’s spotlight is on retailers this week, with many of the companies reporting quarterly results over the next few days, including Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores and Best Buy. On Tuesday, Home Depot turned in better-than-expected results and raised its outlook for the year. Shares in the home-improvement retailer rose $2.71, or 1.6 percent, to $168.06. General Electric was among the market’s big movers, sliding sharply for the second straight day after analysts downgraded the industrial conglomerate. On Monday, GE pulled back on profit expectations and slashed its dividend in half. The stock tumbled $1.12, or 5.9 percent, to $17.90 Tuesday. It’s now down 43.4 percent this year.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.38 percent from 2.41 percent late Monday.
In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline gave up 3 cents to $1.76 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas slid 7 cents to $3.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $4 to $1,282.90 an ounce. Silver added 3 cents to $17.07 an ounce. Copper fell 5 cents to $3.07 a pound.