Stocks close lower as Wall Street braces for Comey testimony

Stocks ended lower Tuesday as Wall Street braced for key events slated for later this week.

The Dow fell 47 points, with Walmart contributing the most losses. The S&P 500 shed 0.28 percent, and the Nasdaq lost 0.33 percent.

Bond prices, meanwhile, caught a bid as the benchmark 10-year note yield hit its lowest level since the days following the U.S. presidential election. Gold prices also hit their highest level in seven weeks.

“Those two markets are maybe signaling concern” among investors, said Jeff Zipper, managing director of investments at the Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. “The [stock] market has been flatlining in the past few days as it waits for some clarity.”

Former FBI Director James Comey is slated to testify Thursday in front of the Senate intelligence committee, marking his first public comment since being fired by President Donald Trump.

Comey will certainly be asked about his reported conversations with Trump and any efforts the president made to interfere with a probe on former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

“The Comey testimony may give us something to talk about. I think it could be a he-said-he-said situation which could put off what can be done in Washington,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank.

Investors have remained vigilant about any new developments on the situation. Nevertheless, the major large-cap indexes have made on making new highs recently as pullbacks present new buying opportunities.

“It’s hard to figure out what exactly would put a dent on this market,” said Key Private Bank’s McCain. “Things haven’t been going too well but sentiment data has been strong.”

“It’s as if the Energizer Bunny has taken over and we’re just going higher and higher,” he said.

Investors also braced themselves for a general election in the United Kingdom set for Thursday. While a vast majority of observers still expect May to emerge victorious on Thursday, a Survation poll published last weekend placed the prime minister’s ruling right-wing Conservative Party ahead by just a single percentage point.

On Tuesday, the pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.67 percent, while the British pound slipped 0.1 percent to $1.289.

In economic news, job openings hit a record high in April, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which showed a total of 6.0 million openings.

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