The oil and stock markets finally started acting like it is August today, settling into the lackadaisical trading that usually occurs during the peak of the vacation season.
Crude oil slipped 67 cents a barrel to $46.05 on the New York Mercantile Exchange as relative calm returned to Iraq and the oil futures trading pits.
Energy traders said prices may continue to fall, but they cautioned that crude oil is not likely to dip below $40 a barrel -- which until this summer was considered an outrageously high price.
Stock trading slowed not only because of summer vacations but also because the second quarter corporate-profits-report-season is almost over and the key economic reports for the month of July have been issued.
August is also a slow month at Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest retailer warned today. Part of the problem, Wal-Mart said, was the Florida hurricane, which cut sales at the company's stores there. But back-to-school business also was slow nationwide.
Wal-Mart stock fell 85 cents to $53.80, leading a broad decline in retail stocks.
Wal-Mart said it now looks like August sales at best will be up 2 percent from last August and may be no better at all.
Analysts said Wal-Mart's moderate income shoppers are particularly sensitive to higher gasoline prices.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down about 37 points at 10,073.05.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index also fell 3 points to 1,095.68.
The Nasdaq stock market composite index, however, rose a fraction of a point to 1,838.70.