Meanwhile, the Census Bureau said that factory orders fell 2% in January after rising by a downwardly revised 1.3% in the previous month. On average, economists were expecting a 2.2% decline.
The Fed's Beige Book for March said the U.S. economy had grown across the country, largely due to the improving housing market, auto sales and new hiring.
Gold for April delivery settled unchanged at $1,574.90, while April crude oil futures slipped 39 cents to close at $90.43 a barrel.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was slipping by 13/32, raising the yield to 1.945%. The dollar was popping 0.5%, according to the U.S. dollar index.The FTSE 100 in London finished lower by 0.07%, while the DAX in Germany gained 0.62%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index settled up 0.96%, while the Nikkei Average in Japan jumped 2.13%. In corporate news, Staples (SPLS) shares retreated 7.2% after the office products company announced lower-than-expected revenue and gave a disappointing outlook as European, American, and corporate customers reined in their spending. The company provided full-year earnings guidance of $1.30 to $1.35 a share, with revenue increasing by the low single-digits. Analysts, on average, are forecasting earnings of $1.44 a share. Staples posted fourth-quarter sales of $6.57 billion, compared with the consensus estimate of $6.72 billion. American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) shares plunged 10.1% after the specialty retailer forecast first-quarter EPS guidance of 16 cents to 19 cents a share, compared with 22 cents a share last year, saying that macro-economic headwinds and unfavorable weather affected consumer spending in February. Members of J.C. Penney's (JCP) board will consider selling the company or replacing Ron Johnson as CEO if a deep drop in sales can't be reversed this year, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. Citi cut its view on the retailer to neutral from buy and slashed its price target on the stock to $15 a share from $22, citing concerns about when the company will return to revenue growth after meeting with executives. Also, Oppenheimer reduced the stock to perform from outperform. Shares shed 3.5%. Best Buy (BBY) shares increased 1.9% after the consumer electronics retailer stock was boosted to buy from hold by Jefferies analysts, who are betting on cost-reduction plans by new management and efforts to stabilize the business. Smith & Wesson (SWHC), the firearm maker, posted fourth-quarter profit Tuesday of $14.6 million, or 22 cents a share, more than tripling from year-earlier profit of $4.4 million, or 7 cents a share. Revenue jumped 39% to $136 million as consumers bought guns while U.S. lawmakers debated whether to impose a ban on some weapons. Shares tumbled 5.1%. VeriFone (PAY) swung to a profit in the first quarter but the maker of terminals for electronic payments said Tuesday it could make senior management changes to "execute our strategic plan going forward." Shares jumped 8.6%. Big Lots (BIG) shares added 6.1% after the North American closeout retailer posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results as the company's Canadian operations posted its first profitable quarter since its acquisition in July 2011. -- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.
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