Stocks closed lower for the second straight session Monday after the Dow Jones industrial average flirted briefly early in the day with its all-time high close.
The markets mostly shrugged off the day’s economic data, which presented a mixed picture of the economy. And stocks were helped, at least initially, by falling oil prices. A barrel of light crude settled at $61.03, down $1.88, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“There are a lot of crosscurrents between earnings, the overall condition of the economy and oil prices,” Jim Herrick, head of equity trading at Robert W. Baird & Co., said of the market’s pullback Monday.
Despite the Dow’s recent climb to near-record territory, Herrick believes the markets will stay tethered near current levels as investors wait for more economic data, such as the government’s employment report due Friday, as well as a read on corporate earnings and profit forecasts.
The Institute for Supply Management said the manufacturing sector grew at the slowest pace in more than a year in September amid weaker U.S. auto sales and a cooling in housing.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said construction spending in August rose 0.3 percent after falling 1 percent in July. Also weighing in, the National Association of Retailers said pending home sales rose 4.3 percent in August.
The economic data follow the strongest quarter for the stock market in about a decade. Investors are eager to find out whether the Federal Reserve still sees inflation as a sizable threat. Stocks have risen since the central bank last month left rates unchanged for a second straight time.