By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped in thin volume on Tuesday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 retreating from Monday's record closing levels as traders found few reasons to buy following a string of gains. A rise in semiconductor companies' shares limited losses.
About half of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes were down for the day, led by telecom <.SPLRCL>, which fell 1 percent.
Monday marked the Dow's second straight record closing high, while it was the third consecutive record close for the S&P 500. However, recent advances were made on light volume, indicating that the rally has lacked conviction.
On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 21.29 points or 0.13 percent, to end at 16,722.34. The S&P 500 <.SPX> inched down just 0.73 of a point or 0.04 percent, to 1,924.24. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 3.12 points or 0.07 percent, to 4,234.08.
The CBOE Volatility Index <.VIX> rose for a second straight day, up 2.5 percent, though it remained under 12, well below the historical average of 20. While the level of the VIX indicates a lack of fear in the market, some investors are concerned that it also reflects a sense of complacency.
"We can't seem to get a decent pullback here as there isn't any momentum to the downside. Every time the market goes down, it is met with buying," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
Semiconductor stocks ranked among the market's leaders, with the PHLX semiconductor index <.SOX> up 0.9 percent. The sector rallied after Skyworks Solutions Inc
Automakers attracted attention after both General Motors Co
Pilgrim's stock fell 2.2 percent to $25.34. Tyson dropped 3 percent to $42.08.
In the latest economic data, April factory orders rose 0.7 percent, topping forecasts.
Trading volume was light at around 5.1 billion shares on U.S. exchanges, below last month's average of 5.75 billion, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Jan Paschal)