NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended mixed and mostly lower Tuesday, led by a steep decline in drug company shares as investors worried it will become harder for the companies to raise prices. Materials companies fell along with the price of precious metals.
U.S. stocks have hardly moved over the last two days, following a four-week rally that erased some big losses from earlier this year.
"People are kind of re-evaluating where we are," said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist for Wells Capital Management. "It's kind of amazing we haven't pulled back a little more."
The Dow Jones industrial average added 22.40 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,251.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.71 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,015.93. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 21.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,728.67.
Trading has been mixed and fairly calm this week as investors wait for the Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee remarks on interest rates and the economy on Wednesday. Investors are also awaiting Wednesdays' Consumer Price Index report, which Paulsen believes will reveal more than the Fed's statement.
"We ought to be paying attention to the Fed's boss, the economy," he said. "If the economic data gets better, the Fed will raise rates. If it doesn't get better, they won't."
Drug company stocks were not afforded any of the market's tranquility Tuesday. They were pummeled after Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which is already facing scrutiny over its business practices, said its strategy of boosting product prices is no longer viable. Every drug company in the S&P 500 fell, and big drug makers Pfizer and Merck led decliners on the Dow.
Valeant tumbled $35.53, or 51.5 percent, to $33.51 after it disclosed disappointing fourth-quarter results, cut its forecasts for 2016 and said it could default on its debt. Valeant is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange commission and Congress is questioning its practice of acquiring older drugs and raising their prices, a strategy shared by other drugmakers.
Endo International lost $9.51, or 22.6 percent, to $32.5 and Mallinckrodt fell $10.10, or 14.5 percent, to $59.51.
Drugmaker Eli Lilly fell on concerns surrounding the potential approval of a drug designed to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease. The company said Tuesday it is changing the goal of a late-stage trial, and investors worried the change makes it less likely regulators will approve the drug. The stock gave up $2.67, or 3.6 percent, to $71.24.
Tech stocks made the biggest gains Tuesday, led by Apple, which rose $2.06, or 2 percent, to $104.58 after a Morgan Stanley analyst said first-quarter iPhone sales look stronger than Wall Street had expected.
Mining companies fell with metals prices. The price of gold fell $14.10, or 1.1 percent, to $1,231 an ounce. Silver sank 26 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $15.26 an ounce. Copper slipped less than 1 cent to $2.23 a pound.
Energy stocks declined as oil prices fell sharply for the second day in a row. Benchmark U.S. crude shed 84 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $36.34 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price international oils, lost 79 cents, or 2 percent, to $38.74 per barrel in London.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slipped 1 cent to $1.41 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.18 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $1.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged Tuesday but downgraded its assessment of conditions in the world's third-largest economy, citing risks from weaker growth in China and other emerging economies and volatility in financial markets, among other factors. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.7 percent Seoul's Kospi was off 0.1 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent.
France's CAC-40 lost 0.8 percent and Germany's DAX shed 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.6 percent.
Bond prices held steady and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note remained at 1.96 percent. The euro edged up to $1.1107 from $1.1097 and the dollar slipped to 113.10 yen from 113.80 yen. The British pound fell to $1.4158 amid renewed jitters about the June popular vote on whether to remain in the 28-country European Union. The pound fell to a seven-year low last month.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay