U.S. stocks pared losses to trade higher Tuesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly lost 100 points in morning trading. Tensions subsided over Greece's ongoing debt crisis as Athens faces a payment deadline Friday. Tuesday’s gains were led by the materials and energy sectors.
In midday trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 23.92 points, or 0.13 percent, to reach 18,064. The Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 2.37 points, or 0.11 percent, to hit 2,114. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 3.49 points, or 0.07 percent, to reach 5,086.
Market professionals analyzed comments from Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard in Washington as she spoke about the central bank’s U.S. economic outlook and monetary policy. Brainard, a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said she is not seeing a significant rebound in the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The policy maker also said a stronger U.S. dollar delays a rise in interest rates, but added a rate hike in 2015 is still possible.
"It would be difficult, based on the data available today, to dismiss the possibility of a more significant drag on the economy than anticipated from foreign crosscurrents and the negative effects of the oil price decline, along with a more cautious U.S. consumer," Brainard said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
U.S. stocks pared losses in afternoon trading as fears of a Greek default eased. The issue crept back into news headlines Tuesday as Athens nears a deadline for a debt payment of 300 million euros ($334 million) to the International Monetary Fund Friday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he issued a proposal to Athens’ creditors in an attempt to secure a deal over the country’s debts. "Last night a complete plan was submitted, a realistic plan to take the country out of the crisis," Tsipras told reporters in Athens Tuesday.
The euro jumped nearly 2 percent against the U.S. dollar on expectations Greece would reach a deal with its creditors. The greenback was on track to post its biggest one-day loss against the euro since March.
Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) led the blue-chip Dow higher Tuesday, gaining 2 percent. Shares of the aerospace company have rallied nearly 11 percent so far this year.
Tuesday's declines were led by the utilities, heathcare and technology sectors.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was the biggest laggard in the blue-chip index, dropping more than 2 percent a day after the chipmaker announced it is buying Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR) in an all-cash transaction for $16.7 billion.
Dow component UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) shed more than 1 percent.
The S&P 500 materials sector gained nearly 1 percent as United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) jumped 6.5 percent. However, the S&P 500 utility sector dropped nearly 2 percent, led by a 2 percent decline from AES Corp. (NYSE:AES), CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE:CMS) and Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR).
Shares of Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) jumped 3.5 percent after the U.S. discount retailer’s profit leaped 14 percent in the first quarter, boosted by higher traffic.
Tuesday was a quiet day on the economic calendar as investors eyed factory orders for April and U.S. auto sales. U.S. factory goods unexpectedly fell 0.4 percent in April after rising 2.2 percent in March, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
Wall Street is eyeing motor vehicle sales for major auto companies, including General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Economists forecast U.S. auto sales hit an annual rate of 17 million in May, up from 16.5 million in April, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
The final tally of monthly auto sales for last month will be released at 5 p.m. EDT.