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Blue chip stocks on Wall Street slipped for a second day though the market is lacking the volatility seen during 2011.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has moved more than 100 points on only one day in 2012 and this was up. The index is now advanced 4% for the year.
Events in Europe continue to influence the market, while corporate results continue to be mixed for the latest quarter.
New economic data continue to show improvement in the US economy, with manufacturing activity in the central-Atlantic region rising briskly in January.
On the global front, the IMF trimmed its world growth estimates for the year to 3.3%, warning that eurozone debt crisis could shave roughly two percentage points off output if there isn't a resolution soon.
In corporate news, McDonald's fourth-quarter earnings rose 11% and beat analyst expectations, The shares fell 1.9% after hitting an all-time high last week.
Verizon Communications shed 2% after the wireless carrier's fourth-quarter earnings came up shy of estimates.
Travelers lost 3.3% after the insurer reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed forecasts although revenue was well above expectations.
At the close (10am NZ time), the Dow was down 33.07 points, or 0.3%, to 12,675.75 . The S&P 500 index was down 1.37 points to 1314.63. The Nasdaq Composite went against the trend, rising 0.1% to 2786.64.
Other markets: Europe down, Asia up
European markets declined, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.4%, at 256.04 as investors grew increasingly concerned that talks between Greece and its private creditors continued without resolution.
Germany's DAX fell 0.3% to 6419.22 and France's CAC-40 closed down 0.5% at 3322.65.
The UK's FTSE 100 declined 0.5% to 5751.90. Greece's Athex Composite index slumped 5.5% to 703.44, its biggest percentage decline since November 1.
In Asia, Japanese shares rose as energy producers climbed on the back of firm oil prices. The Nikkei Stock Average closed up 0.2% at 8785.33,
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index ended flat at 4,224.20, after rising as high as 4,249.40 earlier in the day.
India's Sensex was 1.5% higher at 16,995.77, its highest in 11 weeks.
Markets in Hong Kong, China and Korea remained closed for the New Year holiday.
Commodities Oil, gold down
Oil futures slipped, pulled down by a stronger dollar, as traders continued to mull the impact of the European Union's oil embargo on Iran.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell $US1.04, or 1%, to $US98.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe fell 76USc, or 0.7%, to $US109.82 a barrel.
Gold futures fell more than $US10 an ounce , pulling back from a six-week high, on pressure from US dollar strength and a lack of buying support from Chinese markets.
Gold for delivery in February fell $US10.50, or 0.6%, to $US1667.80 an ounce in New York. Earlier, it dropped as much as $US17.30 to touch a low of $US1661.
Currencies: US dollar rises
The euro turned down against the US dollar as hopes about Greece coming to a deal with creditors soon dissipated.
The euro was at $US1.2980 compared with $US1.3016 late on Monday. It was at ¥101.09, a January high, compared with ¥100.27.
The dollar traded at ¥77.73 from ¥77.03 and at 0.9289 Swiss franc from 0.9276 franc.
The UK pound traded at $US1.5604 from $US1.5568.