NEW YORK -- Stock prices inched lower yesterday as many investors took to the sidelines to await corporate earnings results, more economic news and the expirations of many stock options and index futures later in the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 2.02 points to 3,013.19, after a 29-point gain on Monday.
"There was nothing special about the session," said Phil Roth, the chief technical market analyst at Dean Witter Reynolds. "You more or less have a flat market."
Volume on the Big Board, a moderate 168.4 million shares, trailed off in the afternoon as some traders left early for Yom Kippur. Declining issues outnumbered those that advanced by 843 to 724.
The Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks was down 0.28, to 385.54, and the New York Stock Exchange composite index was down 0.11, to 211.54.
The prices of smaller stocks traded over-the-counter also fell, with the Nasdaq composite index down 0.51, to 515.17. On the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index was down 0.59, to 366.28.
Blue-chip stocks fell and then rose moderately in the first hour of trading, then fell again, before settling into a narrow, slightly lower range that was choppy throughout the afternoon.
Robert Stovall, the president of Stovall/Twenty-first Advisers, a Wall Street firm, said, "The main reason there's tenuousness is that there's a focus on corporate earnings and on what the next major employment report will say when it's released on Oct. 4."