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Dow posts 3-day slide as Wall Street awaits Powell testimony

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Powell will likely disappoint the markets, strategist says

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell slightly on Tuesday as investors awaited more clues on the Federal Reserve's next monetary policy move.

The 30-stock index closed 22.65 points lower, or 0.1%, at 26,783.49, notching a three-day losing streak, after being pressured by 3M shares. The stock fell more than 2% after an analyst at RBC Capital Markets downgraded it to sector perform from outperform amid worries over the macro economic environment and overhang from litigation. Before the close, however, the Dow briefly turned positive.

The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 rose, however, as Facebook and Amazon shares gained more than 1% each. Netflix shares also added to the indexes gains. The Nasdaq gained 0.5% to close at 8,141.73 while the S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 2,979.63.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. This comes just after a stronger-than-expected jobs report raised questions about the central bank's rate policy.

Investors will be looking for clues on whether the Fed will cut rates later this month, as it is widely expected, or if the central bank thinks the economy is strong enough to maintain current monetary policy.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, June 19, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Traders had priced in a 100% probability of a Fed rate cut in July, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool. Expectations for a more aggressive cut were tempered, however, following the stronger-than-expected monthly jobs data released on Friday.

"While by no means a done deal, our base is still that the Fed will cut rates pre-emptively in July," said Mark Haefele, global chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. "However, even after Friday's reaction to the strong jobs data, markets are pricing close to 1% of rate reductions by the end of next year. We think markets have gone too far in pricing lower rates."

Expectations for lower rates boosted stocks to a record high last week. They also sent the major indexes surging in June. The S&P 500 rallied 6.9% in June while the Dow and Nasdaq jumped more than 7% each.

The recent rise in stocks comes as China and the U.S. agreed to hold off on slapping additional tariffs on each other's goods and restart trade talks. Both sides are scheduled to resume negotiations this week.

In corporate news, Netflix shares rose 1% after the streaming company said the third season of "Stranger Things" posted a viewership record.

PepsiCo reported better-than-expected earnings, but the stock fell more than 1%. Levi Strauss is scheduled to report quarterly numbers after the bell. 

The corporate earnings season ramps up next week as major banks like Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are scheduled to report quarterly results. Investors will anxiously look through the reports for evidence on how corporations are coping with the current economic and trade environment.

Expectations for this earnings season are downbeat. Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to have fallen more than 2% in the second quarter from the year-earlier period, according to FactSet data. 

"S&P 500 EPS growth estimates continue to drop. However, the Fed has helped slow the pace of negative EPS estimate revisions with the prospects of interest rate cuts," Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, wrote in a note. 

—CNBC's Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.