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Stocks End Down But Post Gain in August

Stocks end down Tuesday over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, but finish August on a high note.

Stocks finished lower Tuesday, as investors hit pause on the mini rally triggered by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's patience on tapering, but ended August on a high note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 39 points, or 0.11%, to 35,360, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.13%, and the Nasdaq lost 0.04%.

The Dow industrials in August rose 1.2%. For 2021 through the end of August, they tacked on 15.5%.

The S&P 500 moved up 2.9% in August and 20.4% from the first of the year through the end of the month.

And the Nasdaq Composite jumped 4% in August and 18.4% in the first eight months of 2021.

Stocks were also pressed by a weaker-than-expected ISM-Chicago Business Survey reading, which showed economic activity slowing notably in August as input prices leaped and demand waned. 

The Conference Board's August index of consumer confidence, meanwhile, fell to 113.8 points, the lowest since February, with a downward revision to the July tally as well. 

Growth concerns in overseas markets also resurfaced Tuesday following last night's record closes for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, as China reported barely-advancing economic activity data for the month of August and Eurozone inflation was estimated at the highest level in a decade, both thanks in part to the lingering affects of the current wave of coronavirus infections. 

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In the U.S., stubbornly-high coronavirus infection rates, accelerated by the Delta variant, are muting consumer confidence and holding back retail spending. 

Major American companies are also considering changes to their business practices in the coming weeks, with McDonald's  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report reportedly mulling the shut-down on indoor dining and airlines reducing flight capacity in the wake of tepid demand.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose slightly to 1.31%.

Zoom Video Communications  (ZM) - Get Zoom Video Communications, Inc. Class A Report ended down 16.7%, wiping out all of the stock's gains for the year, after the online conferencing company forecast tepid revenue growth as smaller businesses and schools return to in-person activities. 

Oil prices, too, retreated as traders trim demand bets following the weaker-than-expected China PMI data and the prospect of a 400,000 barrel per day increase in production from OPEC+ plus members starting next month.

WTI futures for October delivery were 71 cents lower at $68.50 per barrel while Brent contracts for the same month were 42 cents lower at $72.99 per barrel.

In overseas markets, European stocks peeled back from yesterday's near-record highs following the faster-than-expected inflation data and the EU's decision to remove the U.S from its safe-travel list.

International Consolidated Airlines, the parent company of British Airways, slumped 2.5% in London trading while Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa fell 1.5% in Frankfurt.