By Akane Otani and Updated June 21, 2016 5:38 p.m. ET
U.S. stocks rose Tuesday in relatively quiet trading as investors refrained from making big moves ahead of the U.K.s vote on whether to leave the European Union.
Markets have moved in tandem with polls around Britains referendum, which have triggered steep movements in equities, bonds and currencies around the world. In the past week, stock markets have fallen sharply when polls tilted toward an exit vote, and rebounded just as quickly when they veered toward remain.
Portfolio managers said many investors, having already positioned themselves, are waiting on the results of Thursdays vote before making any significant moves.
Investors arent willing to commit to anything ahead of the referendum, said Remi Olu-Pitan, multiasset fund manager at Schroders.
Stocks were little changed earlier in the session after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen delivered her semiannual testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. While Ms. Yellen struck a slightly cautious note, investors said her remarks were largely in line with what they had expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 24.86 points, or 0.1%, to 17829.73, rising for a second consecutive day. The S&P 500 climbed 5.65, or 0.3%, to 2088.90, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 6.55, or 0.1%, to 4843.76.
Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rallied 1.1% Tuesday to end the day as the best-performing sector of the index even as U.S. crude-oil futures prices dropped 1.1% to $48.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Relatively light activity on the trading floors is another sign that until theres a decision on the vote, were being held hostage by Brexit, said Kenny Polcari, director of equities at ONeil Strategies, as the vote on Britains exit from the EU is called. Tuesdays gains were made on the 10th lowest-volume day of the year.
Recent polls have been mixed, but betting markets have increasingly pointed to a victory for remain, lifting stocks in Europe. The Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.7%, its third consecutive day of gains. Londons FTSE 100 rose 0.4%.
Gold for June delivery fell 1.5% to $1,270.50 an ounce. The metal is being used as a hedge against Brexit risks, and its decline reflects investors being more optimistic that the remain camp will win, said Ms. Olu-Pitan of Schroders.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.699%, from 1.670% Monday. Prices decline as yields rise.
The dollar gained 0.8% against the yen to 104.75 after Japans finance minister on Tuesday said the government wouldnt intervene in the currency markets easily.
Shares in Asia mostly rose Tuesday, with Japans Nikkei Stock Average gaining 1.3%, the Hang Seng adding 0.8% and Australias S&P/ASX 200 rising 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.4%.
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