New York - US stocks fell modestly on Tuesday as investors found few reasons to keep buying with the Dow and S&P 500 coming off a string of record highs.
The day's losses were slight but broad, with nine of the ten primary S&P 500 sectors down on the day.
However, the biggest declining group, industrials, were down less than 0.4 percent, and many sectors were down less than 0.1 percent.
“Momentum” stocks, which are marked by hyper levels of growth and concerns over valuation, were among the day's biggest outperformers, with a number of Internet names were also higher on the day.
Facebook rose 2.6 percent to $64.50 while Netflix was up 2.3 percent to $432.94.
Tuesday's decline comes after a string of gains for Wall Street.
The S&P 500 has ended at a record for the past four sessions, and ended higher 11 times in the past 13 sessions.
“Most valuation metrics suggest that equities are no longer cheap, though they're not exactly overpriced where they are now. People are looking for reasons to really buy, but we're optimistic that equities can continue to push higher,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.
Investors continue to watch trading volume, which has been below average of late, potentially making the market more susceptible to big swings.
The CBOE Volatility index rose 4.3 percent in its second straight daily move, though it remains at levels that are very low from a historical perspective.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 39.53 points or 0.23 percent, to 16,903.57, the S&P 500 lost 5.7 points or 0.29 percent, to 1,945.57 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.86 points or 0.3 percent, to 4,323.39.
Achillion Pharmaceuticals was the Nasdaq's most active name, surging 47 percent to $6.29 on heavy volume and building on a jump of almost 48 percent on Monday.
The company early Tuesday commented on an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial for a hepatitis C drug, and was upgraded to “market outperform” from “market perform” by JMP Securities.
Also boosting biotech names was Receptos, which jumped 37 percent to $40 after its experimental multiple sclerosis drug met its main goal in a mid-stage trial.
RadioShack Corp slumped 8.4 percent to $1.41 after the US electronics retailer reported a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss.
Chico's FAS Inc rose 9.7 percent to $16.86 in heavy trading after the Financial Times reported that the company was exploring a sale to private equity. - Reuters