By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks meandered Tuesday as Wall Street pondered a five-session winning stretch and a summer lull that had equities listing in either direction in exceedingly light trading volume.
"The market has moved from being oversold, and ripe for a gain, to overbought, and ripe for a correction, in short order," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners.
The major issue with the market's recent advance was "the overall lack of volume behind the move," said Nolte, who questions whether the rise would spark additional buying interest or just "peter out due to lack of interest."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was down 19.22 points to 12,563.55, with 19 of its 30 components losing ground.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) fell 2.80 points to 1,336.87, with financial companies trading down the most and energy doing the best among its 10 industry groups.
"Last week saw an ebullient rally in the stock market, with the S&P 500 rising by 5.6%, erasing in one week more than 70% of the correction which the U.S. stock market has endured since the end of April," said David Kelly, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.
The energy sector drew a lift from oil-field-equipment provider National Oilwell Varco Inc.'s (NOV) acquisition of Ameron International Corp. (AMN) for about $772 million.
And, Energy Transfer Equity LP (ETE) agreed to pay a revised $5.1 billion for Southern Union Co. (SUG) , upping its offer for the pipeline company to dispose of a rival bid from Williams Co.
Netflix Inc.'s (NFLX) shares rose the most among the S&P 500, up 6.7%, after the online movie-rental company said it was expanding its film and television-show streaming services across Latin America.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) gained 4.17 points to 2,820.21.
Decliners edged just past advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where 458 million shares had traded as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern.
Volume was expected to remain limited in the holiday-shortened week, with volatility viewed as likely ahead of Friday's employment report.
"If the weekly claims figures are any indication, the jobless rate won't budge too much and job creation is likely to be on the low side, potentially below the 150,000 needed just to absorb normal population growth," noted Nolte at Dearborn Partners.
The Commerce Department on Tuesday said orders for U.S. airplanes, cars and other industrial goods rose 0.8% in May, as cash-laden corporations invested in equipment.
Next week, however, begins quarterly earnings reports, with the economy likely to take a back seat to what should be another good earnings season, with little to no hiring and modest revenue growth, Nolte added.