US stocks trade slightly lower as Trump speech to Congress approaches

U.S. stocks fell slightly Tuesday as investors eagerly awaited a speech from President Donald Trump while parsing through key economic data.

The Dow Jones industrial average traded about 5 points lower, with Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs contributing the most losses.

The S&P 500 declined 0.1 percent, with consumer discretionary leading decliners. Shares of Target dragged discretionaries, falling more than 13 percent on the back of weaker-than-expected quarterly results and light guidance.

The Nasdaq composite fell 0.28 percent.

“Everyone is kind of holding back, waiting to hear what is said tonight,” said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab. “The key will potentially be what is said on taxes because that’s what puts money in people’s pockets.”

Trump is scheduled to speak at a joint Congress session Tuesday night. Wall Street will be listening closely for any clues or details regarding the administration’s plans on tax reform and deregulation.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

“Although global stocks have displayed phenomenal gains this month, the growing scepticism over the sustainability of the bull rally may encourage participants to heavily scrutinize Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress,” said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, in a note.

“With the visible lack of clarity over the proposed pro-growth policies attributing to the market anxiety, investors will be paying extra attention to topics on tax cuts, infrastructure investments, trade, and deregulations,” he said.

Equities in the U.S. have spiked into record-high territory since Trump’s election. Treasury yields and the dollar also surged, but have recently lost steam.

The benchmark 10-year note yield traded near 2.35 percent Tuesday, while the dollar index held around 101; they began 2017 trading near 2.48 percent and 102.21, respectively.

In economic news, the second read on fourth-quarter U.S. GDP remained unchanged, but consumer spending was revised sharply higher to a 3.0 percent rate from 2.5 percent.

“There wasn’t much news in the report,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. “I do think the internals are interesting in terms of the direction; the magnitude was not great.”

“If anything, the quality of the data improve a little bit,” he said.

Meanwhile, low inventory and mortgage rates pushed home prices 5.8 percent higher in December, up from November’s 5.6 percent annual gain, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index.

Other data released Tuesday included consumer confidence for February, which hit its highest level since July 2001. Some Federal Reserve officials are also set to speak throughout the day.

DJIA Dow Industrials 20838.99
1.55 0.01%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2367.43
-2.32 -0.10%
NASDAQ NASDAQ Composite 5844.18
-17.72 -0.30%

—CNBC’s Elizabeth Gurdus contributed to this report.

On tap this week:


Earnings:, United Health Services, SeaWorld

9:45 a.m. Chicago PMI
10:00 a.m. Consumer confidence
10:00 a.m. Richmond Fed survey
3:00 p.m. San Francisco Fed President John Williams
6:40 p.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard


Monthly vehicle sales

Earnings: Best Buy, Mylan Labs, Broadcom, Shake Shack, Planet Fitness, Lowe’s, Windstream, Luxottica

8:30 a.m. Personal income and spending
9:45 a.m. Manufacturing PMI
10:00 a.m. ISM manufacturing
10:00 a.m. Construction spending
1:00 p.m. Dallas Fed’s Kaplan
2:00 p.m. Fed’s Beige Book

6:00 p.m. Fed Gov. Lael Brainard


Earnings: Costco, A-B InBev, Ambev, Toronto-Dominion Bank,, Kroger, Burlington Stores, Autodesk, American Outdoor Brands, Wingstop, Barnes and Noble, Abercrombie and Fitch

8:30 a.m. Jobless claims
7:00 p.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester


Earnings: WPP Group

9:45 a.m. Services PMI
10:00 a.m. ISM nonmanufacturing
10:15 a.m. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker

12:15 p.m. Fed Gov. Jerome Powell
1:00 p.m. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer at Monetary Policy Forum
1:00 p.m. Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Executives Club of Chicago on outlook, with Q&A

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