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Wall Street took a dip into negative territory in choppy afternoon trading on Tuesday, leaving the markets set to add a fourth day to their losing streak.
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As of 3:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.1 points, or 0.27%, to 15355, the S&P 500 dipped 2.3 points, or 0.13%, to 1700 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 5.7 points, or 0.15%, to 3771.
Enthusiasm over the Federal Reserve's move to not begin the process of exiting its massive bond-buying program has been waning over the past several sessions. Indeed, the markets closed out the day on Monday at just about the levels they were ahead of the Fed's policy-setting meeting last week.
"We’ve either reached a point where the market can’t keep using the same excuse to rally with the same effectiveness or we assume that the taper is coming soon anyway," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group wrote in an email to clients, calling recent trading "unusual action."
On the economic front, home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas rose 1.8% in July from June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price report. Prices were up 12.4% from the same month in 2012 amid the burgeoning housing recovery
Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its gauge of consumer confidence fell to 79.7 in September from 81.8 in August, compared to expectations the measure would fall to 79.9. It was the lowest reading since May and the latest sign consumers continue struggling.
Meanwhile, on the corporate front, Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) and Tokyo Electron agreed to a $29 billion tie-up that will create a giant in the electronics space. KB Home (NYSE:KBH) and Lennar (NYSE:LEN) both rallied on the back of upbeat quarterly profits.
In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures slid $1.72, or 1.6%, to $104.67 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.06% to $2.621 a gallon. Gold dropped $12.80, or 0.96%, to $1,314 a troy ounce.