(CNBC) — U.S. stocks closed down in low volume trade on Tuesday, pressured by weakness abroad and a sharp decline in the utilities sector.
"I wouldn't read too much into (utilities' decline) at this point given the slow day today, so some of the moves are bound to be exaggerated," Bespoke Investment Group co-founder Paul Hickey said in an email.
Composite volume held near 2 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, below average levels. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell below the 18,000 level in the close.
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"A lot of people are not at their desks. Any sentiment gets blown out of proportion these days," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital. During the last two days of trading before the new year, her firm is "tidying up and taking some losses," she said.