US stocks slip as energy and tech companies struggle
US stocks gave up some early gains to finish lower as energy companies sank with the price of oil and weak quarterly reports weighed down technology companies.
After two days of closing higher, stocks rose in the morning but could not hang on to the gains.
Energy companies fell after US energy stockpiles shrank by a smaller amount than analysts expected, and announcements from Adobe Systems and HP hurt tech stocks. Drug companies traded higher.
Trading was light as investors watched Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen's testimony before Congress and waited for Thursday's referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.
"There's not a lot of trading out there. People are tentative," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
Britons will vote on Thursday but results will not be known until after US markets are closed.
Mr Frederick said stocks could tumble if Britain votes to leave the European Union, but if the Remain campaign wins, he expected that US stocks would not have a huge reaction.
Polls indicate it will be a tight race, but bookies are giving the Remain camp a higher probability of winning. International experts, including Ms Yellen, have said that a British exit would cause volatility in global markets and uncertainty for the world economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 48.90 points, or 0.3%, to 17,780.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.45 points, or 0.2%, to 2,085.45. The Nasdaq composite edged down 10.44 points, or 0.2%, to 4,833.32.
Ms Yellen said the Federal Reserve will be cautious in raising interest rates because of the mixed state of the economy, with consumer spending rising but investment spending weak.
The U.S. government said crude inventories fell by about 900,000 barrels last week, substantially less than experts had expected. Oil prices have tumbled in the last few years because growth in supplies has far outstripped demand.