Stock market ends little changed as Yellen hints at hike

U.S. stock-market indexes relinquished earlier gains to close little changed on Tuesday, with the Dow industrials extending a losing streak to a fourth session.

Investors appeared to shrug off comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who cautioned against moving too slowly on interest rates. Yellen said there is a risk that the labor market could become overheated, causing an inflation problem down the road.

The S&P 500
SPX, +0.01%
closed a fraction of a point higher at 2,496.84, with eight of the 11 main sectors ending lower. Telecoms and materials led the losses, down 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively, while technology shares rebounded slightly, ending 0.4% higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, -0.05%
slipped 11.77 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,284.32. Apple, Inc.
AAPL, +1.72%
gained 1.7%, halting a four-session skid.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite
COMP, +0.15%
advanced 9.57 points, or 0.1%, to 6,380.16, recouping a fraction of losses from the previous session.

All else stable and equal (as December meeting is still about 3 months away), the Fed is hiking rates again in December we believe and Janet Yellen is essentially telling us that today, Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group LLC, said in emailed comments.

Market expectations for a rate increase in December, observed from the prices in Fed funds futures, moved up to 76%, according to CME Groups FedWatch Tool.

Read: Heres why value stocks are starting to outperform growth

Boockvar notes that the stock market is still focused on potential fiscal policies rather than the Fed policy.

Russell 2000 is up 5.8% over past month, the S&P 500 is up by more than half that at 2.2%. The stock market continues to be focused on tax reform as seen with the price action in the Russell 2000, Boockvar said.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks
RUT, +0.34%
closed at a record, after rising 4.9 points, or 0.3%, to 1,456.86.

The index of small-cap stocks outperformed the S&P 500 in September, gaining 3.5%, more than double of its large-cap counterpart.

Other markets: The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY, +0.05%
rose 0.4% to 93.045 on Tuesday, building on Mondays rise.

Oil futures
US:CLV7
slipped, pulling back from a surge Monday that was in part spurred by a threat from Turkeys president to cut off oil exports from a Kurdish region of Iraq.

Gold futures
GCZ7, -0.32%
retreated, giving up part of Mondays leap that came as North Korean tensions ramped up again. European equities
SXXP, +0.03%
closed mixed Tuesday, while Asian markets closed mostly lower.

Economic data and Fed: Home-price gains picked up speed in July.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index rose a seasonally adjusted 5.8% in the three-month period ending in July compared with a year ago, and was up from 5.6% in the June period. Case-Shillers national index rose 5.9%, up from 5.8%.

Meanwhile, new-home sales tumbled last month, running at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 560,000.

The consumer-confidence index slipped to 119.8 from a revised 120.4 in August, hurt in part by hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Check out: MarketWatchs Economic Calendar

Individual movers: Shares in Red Hat Inc.
RHT, +4.08%
rose 4.1% after the software company posted better-than-expected earnings late Monday.

Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants Inc.s
DRI, -6.53%
stock fell 6.5% as the company matched profit expectations but missed on same-store sales.

Cruise operator Carnival Corp.
CCL, +2.87%
shares rose 2.9% after posting quarterly earnings.

Shares of Equifax Inc.
EFX, +0.91%
initially fell but recovered to close 0.9% higher after news that Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Smith will retire, effective Tuesday, after 12 years in the roles. The stock was earlier halted pending news.

Shares of Genius Brands International Inc.
GNUS, +8.79%
jumped 8.8% after a deal with Amazon.com
AMZN, -0.13%
for a new childrens streaming channel.

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