By Michael Wursthorn
Resurgent shares of technology companies helped the Nasdaq Composite eke out a gain Tuesday.
Even with tech's rise, however, eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors closed lower, leaving the broad index little changed, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped less than a percentage point.
The stabilization came a day after tensions flared between the U.S. and North Korea, contributing to declines in U.S. stocks. Some analysts attributed tech's rebound Tuesday to investors taking advantage of the sector's decline a day earlier.
Shares of tech companies have been big contributors to this year's gains in the U.S. stock market.
"Investors are looking to pick up things that have fallen down a little bit," said Chris Wolfe, chief investment officer at First Republic Bank's wealth-management arm. With bond yields still relatively low, "you get into a place where equities are the only game in town," he added.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 9.57 points, or 0.2%, to 6380.16, while the S&P 500 rose 0.18 point, or less than 0.1%, to 2496.84.
The Dow industrials were in positive territory for much of the session, but declined heading into the close. The blue-chip index slipped 11.77 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22284.32, its fourth straight session of declines and its longest losing streak since June.
Apple, which has stumbled this month following the rollout of its latest slate of iPhones and watches, was among the tech sector's biggest gainers Tuesday. The company rose $2.59, or 1.7%, to $153.14.
Software maker Red Hat gained 4.31, or 4.1%, to 110.07 after it reported higher-than-expected profit and revenue for the latest quarter, while data-storage firm NetApp rose 1.06, or 2.5%, to 43.76.
Without any new major geopolitical developments, investors pulled back from assets they consider to be relatively safe.
Gold for September delivery fell 0.7% Tuesday, and the dollar rose 0.5% against the Japanese yen, which tends to rise when markets slide.
Still, some money managers said some clients have been nervous following recent North Korea developments. The country's foreign minister warned Monday it would shoot down U.S. warplanes even if they were outside its airspace. White House officials dismissed talk of war.
"A lot of our clients are concerned," said Eric Aanes, president of Titus Wealth Management, an advisory firm located just outside of San Rafael, Calif., with $500 million in assets under management.
"We're getting to the point where there's a lot of confusion where to put money."
The Stoxx Europe 600 was little changed. In Asia, South Korea's Kospi closed down 0.3%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average also fell 0.3%, with tech stocks under pressure.
Marina Force contributed to this article.
Write to Michael Wursthorn at [email protected]