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Stock indexes are mixed on Wall Street as gloom sets back in

By ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer

Stocks are mixed in morning trading on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks. 

The S&P 500 was wavering between gains and losses in the first hour of traidng. Technology stocks rose, offsetting losses in financial stocks and elsewhere in the market. Bond yields were mostly headed lower.

Investors sent shares in Walmart up 1.9% after the retail giant reported a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies while sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Kohl's, whose stores have been closed during the outbreak, fell 5.6% after reporting that it swung to a $541 million quarterly loss as its revenue sank more than 40%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34 points, or 0.2%, to 24,561. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks was down 1.1%.

Oil prices continued to climb, benefiting from production cuts and a pickup in demand as the U.S. and other countries ease some of the restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the outbreak.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 3.9% to $33.05 a barrel . Brent crude oil, the international standard, was up 1.2% at $35.24 a barrel. 

Bonds yields were mostly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for interest rates on many consumer loans, fell to 0.72% from 0.74% late Monday.

The mixed action on Wall Street followed a pullback in stock markets in Europe after a record jump in jobless claims in Britain and a 76% slide in new car sales across Europe. The downbeat economic data reinforced the challenges the world faces in recovering from the recession induced by the coronavirus.

France's CAC 40 fell 1.4%, while Germany's DAX lost 0.8%. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 1.3%. Markets in Asia finished higher. 

U.S. stocks had their biggest gain in more than five weeks Monday as investors became hopeful that more progress was being made in getting countries past the worst of the pandemic. Investors are hoping that a working vaccine for COVID-19 can be developed and that it will help reassure people and businesses as the economy reopens.

A safe, effective vaccine for the new coronavirus would help reinforce confidence as economies reopen after shutdowns to contain the pandemic. Experts have warned, however, that development of such a vaccine will likely take many months, and possibly years. 

Investors also have been encouraged by remarks over the weekend from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who expressed optimism that the U.S. economy could begin to recover in the second half of the year.