Stocks struggle after rally

Wall Street dips as investors hesitate ahead of economic data. Oil prices lower as OPEC meets.

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By Aaron Smith, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- Stocks struggled Tuesday morning, as investors were cautious after the previous session's advance on relief about the government's housing rescue plan.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), the broader Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) all inched lower in the early going.

That followed a strong session Monday, when the Dow surged 289 points. The rally was fueled by the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500), which was announced on Sunday.

Oil: Tuesday's focus will be on oil, because the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was meeting in Vienna to decide whether or not to cut supply.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali Naimi described the oil market as being "fairly well balanced" and in a "healthy position," suggesting that OPEC might maintain the status quo for oil supply.

Oil prices fell $2.12 a barrel, to $104.22, as the downgrading of Hurricane Ike to a Category 1 storm alleviated concerns that it would disrupt oil supplies in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm battered Haiti and killed hundreds before making landfall on Cuba on Sunday. It is expected to hit Havana on Tuesday before heading into the Gulf.

Gas prices also dropped, by 0.6 cent to $3.652 a gallon nationwide, according to the motorist group AAA. It has declined 11% from the record high of $4.114 on July 17.

Economy: At 10 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department will announce the level of wholesale inventories in July. A consensus of economists surveyed by expects an increase of 0.7%, compared to a gain of 1.1% in the prior month.

Also at 10 a.m., pending home sales for July will be announced. A consensus of economists expects a decline of 1.4%, compared to a gain of 5.3% in the prior month.

Markets: European markets were higher, but Asia stocks ended lower. The U.S. dollar fell versus the euro and the British pound, but edged up against the yen. To top of page

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