The stock market bull is hibernating
(CNN) — Stocks are still hovering near record highs but the bull seemed to be taking a bit of a breather on Tuesday.
The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq fell slightly in early trading, as investors wait for speeches from two Federal Reserve officials and continue to question when the central bank will begin to wind down its stimulus program.
Stocks have surged this year thanks to a slowly recovering economy and continued bond buying from the Fed, leaving the major U.S. indexes sitting at or near record highs. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq are all up more than 20% in 2013.
Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart are both scheduled to deliver speeches in the afternoon. Investors will be closely listening for any hints about the Fed's plans to finally start cutting back, or "tapering", its bond buying.
Stronger than expected reports on economic growth and the job market have led some economists to expect the Fed to announce it will slow its stimulus program at its next meeting in December.
"The market is basically doing pretty good, considering that tapering is back on the table," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
Investors previously thought the Fed may wait until the spring to taper. But now that some think the Fed could pull back as soon as next month, interest rates are rising again. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield hit 2.78% Tuesday morning -- its highest level in about two months.
Otherwise,Tuesday is a light day for corporate news and economic releases.
Dish Network shares rose nearly 3% after the satellite TV company reported stronger-than-expected earnings and revenue in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, DR Horton, one of the nation's largest homebuilders, rose about 2%, after reporting earnings in line with Wall Street's expectations. Other homebuilders were mixed though. Lennar and Toll Brothers rose slightly while PulteGroup fell in morning trading.
European markets were mixed in morning trading. Most Asian markets closed on a positive note, as China's Communist Party wrapped up a four-day meeting with a pledge to allow markets to play a bigger role in allocating resources. Japan's Nikkei spiked 2.2% after the country reported a larger-than-expected trade surplus in September.