Stocks slip as traders eye Middle East tensions

Stocks remain within striking distance of all-time highs

Stocks fell Tuesday as investors continued to monitor recent developments in the Middle East.

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U.S. officials remained on alert after a drone attack killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. Air Force flexed its muscles on Monday, conducting an "elephant walk" of 52 F-35A II Lightning fighter jets.

All three of the major averages traded within 0.4 percent of their respective flat lines for the entire session, and remained within striking distance of all-time highs.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SP500S&P 5002694.55+30.87+1.16%
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES22711.56+31.57+0.14%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7968.972008+55.73+0.70%

Boeing rallied after recommending 737 Max pilots receive simulator training before flying the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration will have the final say on the matter.

American Airlines slid following the announcement that the company reached a confidential agreement with Boeing for 737 Max compensation related to the aircraft’s grounding in 2019. The largest U.S. airline will receive payments over several years and give more than $30 million to its 2019 employee profit-sharing program.

Meanwhile, Tesla gained after CEO Elon Musk attended a ceremony at the electric-car maker’s Shanghai Gigafactory celebrating the first delivery of made-in-China vehicles to the general public. On Monday, Tesla became the U.S. automaker with the highest market capitalization in history.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY143.62-5.15-3.46%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.10.25+0.75+7.89%
TSLATESLA INC.547.67+31.43+6.09%

Pier 1 Imports was under pressure for a second day after announcing the closing of up to 450 stores as it attempts to stave off a bankruptcy filing. Shares plunged by 16.9 percent on Monday before being halted.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
PIRn.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.

Elsewhere, Apache Corporation soared after announcing a "significant" oil discovery off the coast of Suriname. Paris-based Total, which has a 50 percent stake in the well, was little changed.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
APAAPACHE CORP.6.48+0.61+10.39%
TOTTOTAL S.A.36.75-0.46-1.24%

On the commodities front, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 0.9 percent at $62.71 a barrel. The energy component is now up 2.5 percent since the airstrike that killed Soleimani on Thursday.

Gold hit its highest level since April 2013, closing up 0.3 percent near $1,573 an ounce.

Economic data out Tuesday morning showed the U.S.' trade deficit fell 8.2 percent to $43.1 billion in November, hitting its lowest level since October 2016. The U.S.' deficit with China plunged by 15.7 percent to $26.4 billion.

U.S. Treasurys were slightly lower, pushing the yield on the 10-year note up 1.5 basis points to 1.826 percent.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.8 percent while France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were little changed.

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In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei led gains, ending up 1.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.