By ALEX VEIGA
The Associated Press
A wobbly day on Wall Street left stock indexes mostly lower Thursday as investors turned cautious ahead of a widely anticipated speech by the Federal Reserve chairman.
Losses by health care, technology and energy companies, among other sectors, outweighed gains by banks, consumer goods makers and elsewhere in the market. Bond prices fell, nudging yields higher.
Stocks gave up an early gain and then wavered through much of the day after a mixed batch of economic data coupled with remarks from two Federal Reserve bank presidents left investors less certain about the likelihood that the central bank will lower interest rates again next month.
Traders hope for a better read on Fed policy Friday, when Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak at the central bank's annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
"The market is expecting a rate cut in September, and if Powell doesn't think that consensus is going to be to cut rates, he needs to start preparing the market for that," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.
The S&P 500 fell 1.48 points, or 0.1%, to 2,922.95. It swung between a gain of 0.5% and a loss of 0.7%. A pickup in Boeing helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher. The Dow gained 49.51 points, or 0.2%, to 26,252.24.
The Nasdaq dropped 28.82 points, or 0.4%, to 7,991.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks lost 3.85 points, or 0.3%, to 1,506.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.61% from 1.57% late Wednesday.
The Fed cut its key policy rate July 31 for the first time in more than a decade, citing a number of "uncertainties" that were threatening the country's decade-long expansion, from Trump's trade battles to slowing global growth.
Investors have been convinced that the central bank will follow up the July rate cut with further cuts at coming meetings, beginning with one next month.
But remarks from Esther George, president of the Fed's Kansas City regional bank, and Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, have injected some doubt about what the Fed will do next.
In televised interviews, both said they don't see a need for another rate cut.