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Stocks Slip From Highs; Ford Drags on S&P 500 as Sales Fall

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks fell back from records on Tuesday morning, after the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average nabbed fresh all-time highs and the Nasdaq closed above 5,000 for only the third time in history and the first time in 15 years. 

The S&P 500 was down 0.5% on Tuesday, the Dow slipped 0.41%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.61%.

Ford (F) was among the worst performers on the S&P 500 after reporting that U.S. sales in February tumbled 1.9% from the year earlier. A 4% increase in truck sales wasn't enough to offset an 8.1% decline in car sales and a 2.3% drop in utilities sales. Shares were down 2.8%.  

General Motors (GM) was slightly lower. While its U.S. auto sales climbed 4.2%, the increase at GM was less than an expected 5.9% gain. 

Losses were broad-based across all sectors, including consumer discretionary, despite better-than-expected results from retailers AutoZone (AZO - Get Report) , Best Buy (BBY - Get Report) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS).

AutoZone surged 1.8% after reporting earnings of $6.51 a share, 13 cents better than expected. Quarterly sales jumped 7.5% to $2.14 billion, just above estimates.

Best Buy was up 1.1% as earnings beat estimates thanks to strong growth of more than 3% in its domestic segment. The retailer also announced a $1 billion buyback program to be carried out over the next three years.

Dick's rose 1% after beating analysts' estimates on its top- and bottom-lines. Comparable-store sales climbed 3.4% in its fourth quarter. 

Shares of General Electric (GE) fell 0.6% following a Barclays analyst's suggestion that CEO Jeff Immelt may step down within the next year as investors seek change at the industrial giant, Bloomberg reported.

European markets were lower, despite better-than-expected data from Germany and Spain. Germany, the largest economy in the eurozone, saw retail sales climb 2.9% in January from a month earlier, far better than an expected 0.3% decline. Spain's economy was looking in better shape after monthly jobless claims fell 13,538 in February.

The Aussie dollar bounced back after the Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly kept its key benchmark rate at 2.25%. The dollar was up 0.63% to 78.15 cents against the U.S. greenback. The U.S. dollar was slightly higher against other major currencies including the euro, British pound and Swiss franc.

Citigroup (C) was slightly higher after Springleaf Financial (LEAF) agreed to purchase its OneMain Financial arm for $4.25 billion in an all-cash deal expected to close in the third quarter. Springleaf shares surged 32.3%.

Barclays (BCS) reported better-than-expected profit in 2014, up 12% from a year earlier. However, shares slipped 1.9% after the company took an additional $1.2 billion charge tied to its currency-rigging probe.

Oil services company McDermott (MDR) rocketed more than 24% higher after posting surprise quarterly profit and guiding for stronger-than-expected revenue over the full year.

Lumber Liquidators (LL) rose 8% after Janney Capital Markets upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral." The stock fell more than 20% on Monday following a 60 Minutes report that raised health concerns about some of its laminate flooring products.

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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