By Tomi Kilgore
U.S. stocks edged lower Tuesday, as investors paused to assess the market's recent streak of record high closes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 18 points, or 0.1%, to 16925.
The S&P 500 index slipped two points, or 0.1%, to 1949, while the Nasdaq Composite Index eased four points, or 0.1%, to 4332.
On Monday, the Dow rose 0.1% to post a fourth straight gain and third straight record close. The S&P 500 closed at a fourth straight record Monday, and 19th record this year, while the Nasdaq closed at a three-month high.
A slowly but steadily improving economy, accommodative central-bank policies and low interest rates are providing a positive backdrop for stocks, money managers say. But with benchmark indexes near record highs, and little news to provide a trading spark, activity remained muted. Overall daily volume on Monday fell short of the year-to-date average of 6.45 billion shares for a 16th straight session. That streak was set to continue on Tuesday, investors said.
"We're kind of just hanging out here, waiting for something that gives us some juice," said Karyn Cavanaugh, market strategist at Voya Investment Management, which manages about $200 billion. She said the market could remain in limbo, at least until data on retail sales are released later in the week.
"Right now, there's nothing going on that looks like it will stop the market from grinding higher," Ms. Cavanaugh said.
On the economic calendar, wholesale inventories for April increased slightly more than expected, while data showed that optimism among small business owners improved.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2.642%, putting it on track to settle at a near one-month high.
Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which has $120 billion in assets under management, said stocks are in "a good place" to keep trending higher, but the market may be getting a little ahead of itself at current levels.
"Near term, it would be healthy for the equity market to pause," Mr. Sandven said.
Crude-oil futures gained 0.3% to $104.68 a barrel, and appeared on track to settle at a three-month high. Gold futures added 0.5% to $1,260.10 an ounce. The dollar gained ground against the euro, but slipped against the yen.
European markets advanced, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.2% and on course for a fifth straight gain to a 6 1/2-year high.
China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.1% following news that China's central bank will reduce bank reserve requirements for city commercial banks and rural banks. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.9%.
In corporate news, RadioShack slumped 6.8% after the consumer electronics retailer reported a wider-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss and revenue that fell short of forecasts, citing weakness in its mobile phone business.
General Motors edged up 0.2%, after the auto maker's chief executive officer, Mary Barra, said at a media briefing it likely won't be until August before the company can provide an estimate on the financial cost of its recent ignition switch recall.
eBay fell 2.3% after it said late Monday that the head of its PayPal business, David Marcus, was leaving the company as of June 27 to lead Facebook's messaging products.
Achillion Pharmaceuticals surged 60% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removed the hold it placed on the company's experimental hepatitis C treatment, sovaprevir. That allows the company to proceed with patient trials.
Write to Tomi Kilgore at firstname.lastname@example.org