WALL Street ended little changed in a volatile session on Tuesday as uncertainty over when Spain might apply for a bailout shackled a market struggling to build on gains that took the S&P 500 to its highest in nearly five years.
The market was also hamstrung by concerns about the upcoming reporting period that kicks into full gear next week.
The Dow was pressured by stocks closely tied to the pace of growth, including Caterpillar and Boeing. A major headwind for the economy has been declining demand from Europe, which has been drifting toward recession. Car companies reported September sales, with General Motors and Chrysler posting gains while Ford remained flat.
“The market is reacting more to the (Spain) news because it wants to consolidate after a pretty good run. The market is making this news even bigger than it really is just to make it an excuse to sell,” said Frank Gretz, market analyst at Wellington Shields & Co in New York.
The S&P rose nearly six per cent in the third quarter, lifted by accommodative moves by the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, which market participants bet would boost flagging growth.
“Until we get some kind of clarity, we should expect a lot of volatility and difficulty holding on to gains,” said Brian Barish, president of Cambiar Investors in Denver.
The Dow Jones was down 32.83 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 13,482.28. The S&P 500 was up 1.26 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 1,445.75. Nasdaq was up 6.51 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 3,120.04.