NEW YORK, New York - Investors in U.S. stocks were hesitant Tuesday although all the main exchanges managed modest gains for most of the day. However by the close, the industrial bourses had slipped in to the red, with the technology sector just holding its own.
"People have been preconditioned to buy pullbacks for most of the last year-plus,"Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles told Reuters news agency Tuesday.
"But that overhead nervousness is still there, and that's why we're not seeing material further upside," he added.
The Dow Jones industrials edged down 50.63 points or 0.15 percent to 33,579.84.
The Standard and Poor's 500 slipped 3.57 points or 0.08 percent to 14,354.16.
The Nasdaq Composite gained 32.49 poin ts or 0.22 percent to 14,746.40.
On overseas markets, in Paris, France the CAC 40 cruised up 1.50 percent. The Dax in Germany gained 1.43 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 added 1.12 percent.
On foreign exchange markets, the U.S. dollar remained strong but traders were reluctant to push it higher. Fellow safe-haven currencies, the Japanese yen, and Swiss franc moved higher. The Japanese yen did best, advancing to 109.18, approaching the New York close Tuesday.
The Swiss franc rose to 0.9231.
The euro was coma-like at 1.1730, as was the British pound at 1.3666.
The Canadian dollar dipped to 1.2806. The Australian dollar dropped to 0.7231. The New Zealand dollar was weaker at 0.7009.
On Asian markets, bourses in mainland China, South Korea, and Taiwan remained shut for national holidays.
The main action was in Japan which re-opened after a public holiday on Monday. The Nikkei 225 dived 660.34 points or 2.17 percent to close at 29,839.71.
The Australian All Ordinaries gained 25.20 points or 0.33 percent to 7,563.10.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng firmed 122.40 points or 0.61 percent to 24,221.54. The benchmark index lost more than 800 points a day earlier, on the back of concerns about the financial health of China's biggest property developer China Evergrande.