Stocks declined Tuesday amid worries about the fate of the auto industry as a bailout grows increasingly unlikely.
About a half hour before the opening bell, there was buzz in the market that there may be some foreign interest in gold, which boosted commodities and stocks. The dollar declined.
But the market was preoccupied with the auto bailout hearings on Capitol Hill, which resumed this morning.
>> Watch CNBC's live-streaming video of the hearings.
"The uncertainty around the auto makers is weighing heavy" on the market, Tim Mole, head of CFD's at SVS Securities, told CNBC. It's a "gauging point of the U.S. economy," he added.
The House Financial Services Committee gets its chance to grill the heads of the Big Three auto-makersduring today's hearing.
Shares of both General Motors and Ford dropped more than 10 percent. In the past 12 months, GM shares have lost more than 90 percent of their value and Ford is down more than 80 percent.
On Tuesday, auto makers warned that the industry was on the brink of disasterin their plea for a $25 billion aid package.
"This is about much more than just Detroit," GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in his testimony. "It's about saving the U.S. economy from a catastrophic collapse."
Meanwhile President-elect Barack Obama came under pressure from chief executives of leading U.S. companies to implement a fiscal stimulus package and name his economic team.
One of the bailout recipients, American International Group, will pay roughly $3 million to several executives under deferred compensation plans that are being terminated, according to a regulatory filing. The insurer halted plans last week to pay $503 million in deferred compensation.