U.S. Stocks Open Slightly Lower, Politics Remain In Focus

By Ryan Vlastelica Markets MarketWatch Pulse

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Tuesday, putting the Dow on track for a ninth straight daily decline as investors continued to grapple with the uncertain legislative outlook in Washington. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27 points, or 0.1%, to 20,529. The blue-chip average is coming off eight straight down days, its longest streak since 2011. The S&P 500 dipped 2.5 points to 2,339, a drop of 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 3 points to 5,828, a slide of less than 0.1%. Recent market losses have been fueled by the failure of House Republicans and President Donald Trump to pass an overhaul of the health care system, which has been read as a litmus test for how easily the Trump administration can enact other economic legislation. Markets have rallied since the election, in large part on bets that Trump's proposals on taxes and regulation would accelerate economic growth if enacted. A failure to sign them into law could put those gains at risk. Among the most active stocks of the day, both utilities and telecom shares fell 0.4%. Both sectors are considered defensive plays. On the upside, energy rose 0.4% alongside a 0.9% rise in the price of crude oil.

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