The stock market Tuesday slipped back from its latest record high in a listless day of trading. Oil companies and drillers tugged major indexes down as the price of crude oil dropped for a fifth day straight.
Walmart fell after reporting weak sales and a drop in quarterly earnings, a result of raises for workers and a rising dollar squeezing its profits. Walmart’s stock sank $3.49, or 4 percent, to $76.43.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has gained 2 percent this month, setting record highs along the way.
“The market pulls back slightly one day then moves ahead. It has been a grind,” said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust.
The S&P 500 lost 1.37 points, a sliver of a percent, to 2,127.83. The Nasdaq composite dipped 8.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,070.03. The Dow Jones industrial average managed a slight gain, edging up 13.51 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,312.39. That marked the fourth straight daily gain for the Dow.
The government reported that builders started work on new houses at the fastest pace in seven years.
Housing starts jumped 20.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.14 million homes, the fastest since November 2007.
The news helped lift shares in D.R. Horton, PulteGroup and other builders.
“The housing market comes back in the spring — (that) is what Realtors always say, and, boy, is this true today,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, in a note to clients.
U.S. government bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up to 2.28 percent from 2.24 percent late Monday.
The price of oil fell sharply Tuesday, extending its slide for a fifth day in a row. A rising dollar made oil, which is priced in dollars, more expensive for overseas buyers. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.17 to close at $57.26 a barrel in New York.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell $2.25 to close at $64.02 in London.