U.S. stocks were slightly lower on Thursday morning as caution prevailed ahead of the start of the annual gathering of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are scheduled to speak on Friday. Their speeches will be scrutinized for hints on the path of monetary policy, but neither of them are expected to give fresh guidance.
"I don`t think it is likely that something of possible significance will come out of Jackson Hole, but investors are looking for the world of powerful people sharing their insights and opinions," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
"The investors, at this time, are really looking for a fresh theme."
The central bankers` views will be a change from the past two weeks, when the stock market was roiled by concerns over geopolitics, mayhem in Washington and President Donald Trump`s controversial comments.
Trump, on Wednesday, threatened to shut down the government if funds were not secured to build a Mexico border wall – comments that came as a late-September deadline looms for U.S. officials to raise the debt ceiling or risk a default.
At 10:04 a.m. ET (1404 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 23.4 points, or 0.11 percent, at 21,788.69, the S&P 500 was down 2.86 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,441.18. The Nasdaq Composite was down 7.92 points, or 0.13 percent, at 6,270.49.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. The losses were led by a 0.55 percent drop in the consumer staples index, weighed down by disappointing reports from packaged foods makers Hormel Foods and J.M. Smucker.
The consumer discretionary index index eked out a gain of 0.03 percent, helped by strong results at Dollar Tree and Signet Jewelers.
Dollar Tree`s 8.4 percent rise gave the biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Signet Jewelers surged about 20 percent after the company also said it would buy an online jeweler. Bigger rival Tiffany`s rose about 3.6 percent to $91.8 after its results.
Hormel Foods fell 8 percent and J.M. Smucker slid 6.3 percent after their weak quarterly results and forecast cuts.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,300 to 1,236. On the Nasdaq, 1,296 issues rose and 1,112 fell.