Wall Street flattened on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 giving back earlier gains that saw the measure top 2,900 for the first time during the session on trade optimism that was pared amid lighter-than-average volumes for the benchmark.
The S&P's sectors were mixed with telecoms and energy groups posting the steepest declines, while defensive real estate held on for a 1.1% gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also turned briefly weaker, while the Nasdaq held on for another record high. The S&P was also at a record, even through it ended less than a point in the green.
A trade deal between the US and Mexico that was agreed on Monday sent stocks surging, but led to questions about Canada's place in the revised version of the North American trading bloc. On Tuesday, Canadian officials traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in talks with speculation that a deal could be announced this week.
"Hurdles remain, but there is a materially higher probability of a nearer term agreement," said Derek Holt, vice president of Scotiabank Economics, in a note on Tuesday.
But a weaker day for energy and a mixed performance in the consumer groups on the S&P kept the benchmark measure in check. Oil pulled back as prices for the key commodity came off a multi-day run of gains, and the energy group was down 0.5% by the close. Telecoms were also weaker by 0.5%.
On the upside, tech gained 0.2%, but was also off its highs after President Trump took aim for a second time Tuesday at Alphabet's ( GOOGL ) Google, and added criticism of Facebook ( FB ) and Twitter ( TWTR ) in White House comments.
The Nasdaq was lifted by gains in chipmaker Qualcomm ( QCOM ), which rose 3.6% after saying it accepted about 76 million shares for payment at $67.50 in a Dutch auction, while RBC said it expects more buybacks to come.
The day's economic data was mixed, helping to keep the sentiment in check. Consumer confidence jumped to an 18-year high but the US trade deficit in goods widened more than expected. Wednesday's calendar has the second reading of second-quarter economic growth.
Here's where the markets stood by the close:
Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 14.38 points (+0.06%)
S&P 500 was up 0.78 points (+0.03%)
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 12.14 points (+0.15%)
FTSE 100 was up 0.52%
Nikkei 225 was up 0.06%
Hang Seng Index was up 0.28%
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 0.1%
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