NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished at session lows Tuesday following lackluster housing and consumer confidence data, and a pullback in the energy sector weighed down by natural gas stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 43.9 points, or 0.3%, at 13,198 and the S&P 500 fell 4 points, or 0.3%, at 1413, as the energy sector fell more than 1%. The Nasdaq was down 2.2 points, or 0.07%, at 3120, receiving some support from tech heavyweight Apple (AAPL).
Shares of the iPad and iPhone maker gained 1.2% as its chief executive officer Tim Cook arrived in China to meet with local officials, ahead of company's plans to ramp up investments in the world's most populous market.
The Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index pulled back slightly in March to a reading of 70.2. The level was slightly worse than the expected 70.4, and down from an upwardly revised 71.6 in February.Earlier, the S&P Case-Shiller home price index showed that U.S. home prices fell 0.8% in January and 3.8% annually. Economists according to Thomson Reuters expected prices to inch higher by 0.2% during January, making for a drop of 3.7% compared to the same time last year. The report followed of slew of recent data pointing to a still weak housing market. "Prices are bottoming but not necessarily turning upwards," wrote Dan Greenhaus, strategist with BTIG. "Historically, housing bubbles tend to see home prices on average bottom out six years after peaking. As such, if the United States were to suffer a decidedly average housing crash, this summer would mark the point at which prices should begin turning upwards on a sustained basis."
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