NEW YORK (AP) — The Standard & Poor's 500 index touched its highest point in more than four years Tuesday. But a morning rally faded, and stock indexes were down slightly by the afternoon.
The S&P was down one point at 1,417 shortly before 2 p.m. EDT, with bank stocks up the most and telecommunications companies down the most. Earlier in the day, the S&P climbed to 1,426, its highest since May 19, 2008.
Sean Clark, chief investment officer at Clark Capital Management Group, an investment advisory firm, saw no major news driving the market. Trading volume has been light in recent days.
Clark said that part of the explanation for the stock market's steady climb this month is that some money managers are afraid of missing out on the rally.
"A lot of fund managers have underperformed this year, and I think they're feeling pressure," he said. "There may have been some panic buying over the last couple of weeks."
In other trading, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 22 points to 13,245, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 10 points to 3,066. Crude oil hit its highest price in three months, rising $1.32 to $97.58.
Clark Yingst, chief market analyst at the securities firm Joseph Gunnar, thought traders were swayed by talk that the European Central Bank may launch a bond-buying effort to support the region's troubled countries.
Yingst pointed to currency moves and bank stocks as evidence. JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and other companies with ties to Europe rose more than the overall market. The euro surged 1 percent to $1.247.
"It's very much a news- and rumor-driven market," Yingst said.
Treasury prices fell, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. note climbed to 1.84 percent from 1.81 percent Monday.
Facebook's stock sank 3 percent after one of its earliest backers, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, sold the bulk of his stake in the social network. Last week was the first time some insiders could sell their shares.
On Tuesday, Facebook's stock lost 73 cents to $19.28. It went public in May at almost twice that price, $38.
Major European markets edged up amid hints of progress in calming the region's debt crisis. Spain managed to raise $5.4 billion from bond investors at sharply lower interest rates than at the last such auction.
Germany's DAX added 0.8 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.9 percent.
Markets have been relatively calm this month, and volumes have thinned with fewer people on trading desks. Monday was one of the quietest days of the year, with 2.7 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In contrast, daily volume averaged 3.8 billion three months ago, and that was considered light.
Among other stocks making moves:
— Urban Outfitters jumped 17 percent. The clothing retailer reported earnings late Monday that beat analysts' forecasts, thanks to stronger sales. The stock surged $5.43 to $36.71.
— Best Buy fell 1 percent. The country's largest consumer electronics retailer reported a 90 percent drop in net income during the second quarter, dragged down by restructuring charges and weak sales. The chain is waging a public fight with its co-founder Richard Schulze, who wants to take the company private. Best Buy's stock dropped 16 cents to an even $18 and has lost 11 percent this week.
— Barnes & Noble posted a smaller quarterly loss, helped by sales and e-books and surging sales of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" book. The largest traditional bookstore chain fell 31 cents to $12.02.