Stock Market Today: Stocks Lower; Apple Unveils 2 New iPhones

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets were trading lower early afternoon Tuesday, continuing to back off from recent highs.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.44% to 17,035.83. The S&P 500 was down 0.37% to 1,994.20. The Nasdaq was down 0.33% to 4,577.32.

The S&P pulled back from record levels Monday after five weeks of gains that pushed the benchmark to its 33rd record close of the year on Friday.

"Tactically, we continue to believe that equity investors should be on guard for a more challenging investment climate in the near term, as monetary policy certainty fades to uncertainty this autumn. However, economic growth and earnings trends continue to improve, supporting a relatively optimistic outlook for stocks over a longer term," said Gina Martin Adams, international equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities.

In top company headlines, Apple (AAPL)   shares gained 1.78% to $100.12 after the stock had a tough time last week. The anticipated release of the newest iPhone is expected at 1 p.m. EDT when the tech giant holds an event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, near its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Along with a new, larger iPhone and possibly a computerized watch, Apple also could announce Tuesday a mobile payments strategy following several reports the company is working with payments companies Visa (V) , Mastercard (MA) and American Express (AXP) .

Apple has outperformed the S&P 500 by 0.7% over six years based on its performance from past iPhone events to the release date of a new iPhone. But it underperformed by a sharp 7% last year -- the worst performance ever -- according to Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Apple's stock historically has underperformed relative to the S&P 500 in the one-week, two-week and four-week periods after a new iPhone has been released, said the analyst. This time though, he expects a "new dynamic" with the potential for a new product category -- the iWatch --and a more favorable average selling price with a 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

Home Depot's (HD)  stock slid 1.26% to $89.68 after its confirmation on Monday that its payment systems were hacked in a data breach that could affect millions of shoppers who used credit and debit cards at its more than 2,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

McDonald's (MCD) fell 1.31% to $91.27 after reporting that global same-store sales decreased 3.7% in August, its results damaged by the recent food safety scare in China. 

General Mills (GIS) lost 0.51% to $53.24 and Annie's (BNNY)   surged 37.75% to $46.16. General Mills plans to buy Annie's, the organic food company known for its rabbit-shaped mac and cheese, for $820 million. 

European markets fell Tuesday amid geopolitical jitters after EU governments abruptly halted new sanctions against Russia to assess the latest Ukraine cease-fire.

The SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) was up 0.02% to $120.75. The United States Oil Fund  (USO) was up 0.17% to $34.76.

--By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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