Soft Data Weigh Down Stocks

Two economic reports are weaker than expected.
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Updated from 4:09 p.m. EST

Wall Street ended little changed Tuesday as weaker-than-expected reports on consumer confidence and Midwestern manufacturing activity kept buyers on the sidelines as October came to a close.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

pared earlier losses but closed down 5.77 points, or 0.05%, to 12,080.73. The

S&P 500

tacked on 0.01 point to 1377.94. The

Nasdaq Composite

added 2.94 points, or 0.12%, to 2366.71.

On the Dow,

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

dropped 1.7%, and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

shed 2%.

Two data points pressured the market. One of them, the Chicago purchasing managers' index for October, dropped to 53.5 from 62.1 the previous month and missed the 58 reading economists had been expecting.

"On the face of it this looks awful but it has to be seen in the context of the unexpected jump in September," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with High Frequency Economics. "The average headline index for the two months together, 57.8, is very close to the prior six-month average of 58.4."

In addition, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for the month was a disappointment at 105.4, falling short of the 107.8 consensus estimate.

Shepherdson noted that "if the drop in gas prices and the rise in stock prices really is having so much less effect than history suggests, something else must be worrying consumers."

After the economic releases, the 10-year Treasury rose 17/32 in price, yielding 4.60%. The dollar rose against the yen and euro.

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"The Nasdaq has made it back to its April high," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "While the Nasdaq has led the Dow and S&P 500 in percentage gains since the July low, it has lagged in terms of reaching new multiyear highs and internal market action."

About 2.78 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, and volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.97 billion shares. Winners matched losers.

By sector, oil stocks were the big winners of the session. The Amex Oil index was higher by 1.1%, and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index rose 1%. Housing stocks were among the hardest hit, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector index losing 0.7%.

After the previous session's close, a number of stocks made headlines, including

Celgene

(CELG) - Get Report

, as Standard & Poor's said the biotech outfit will replace

AmSouth Bancorp

(ASO)

, which is being acquired, in the S&P 500. Celgene rose 7.2% to close at $53.44.

Meanwhile,

Sirna Therapeutics

(RNAI)

roared higher by 95.8% after

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

said it would buy the company for $13 a share, more than twice its $6.45 last closing price. Overall, the deal is worth $1.1 billion. Merck fell 22 cents, or 0.5%, to finish at $45.42.

As a new session got under way, another merger pact was reached, this one in the real estate sector, where

CB Richard Ellis

(CBG)

agreed to buy

Trammell Crow

(TCC)

for $49.51 a share in cash, or $1.8 billion. Shares of Trammell Crow jumped 24.7%, and CB Richard Ellis gained 6.4%.

Earnings continue to pour in. Among the early reporters,

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of $2.7 billion, or 79 cents a share, up 33% from the same quarter a year ago. Sales jumped 27% to $18.79 billion. Results beat the Thomson First Call average estimate for EPS of 78 cents on revenue of $18.56 billion.

The Dow component issued second-quarter guidance that was in line with estimates, and shares of P&G finished lower by 42 cents, or 0.7%, to $63.39.

Elsewhere,

Qwest

(Q)

and

BJ Services

(BJS)

beat analysts' profit estimates, while

Alcan

(AL) - Get Report

came in a penny light. At

UBS

(UBS) - Get Report

, profits fell 21%.

The benchmark December contract recovered from early losses and ended 37 cents higher at $58.73 a barrel. Meanwhile, gold futures dipped 60 cents to finish the session at $606.80 an ounce, while silver tacked on 2 cents to $12.27 an ounce.

The economic calendar is filled for the remainder of the week. The government will post its nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, and the Institute of Supply Management will release its manufacturing index on Wednesday. In addition, retailers will report same-store sales for October on Thursday.

Europe's bourses were lower. London's FTSE was down 0.1% to 6124, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was off 0.1% to 6254. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei gained 0.3% to 16,399, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was higher by 0.2% to 18,324.

On Wednesday, earnings reports are expected from

Time Warner

(TWX)

,

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

,

Clorox

(CLX) - Get Report

,

Maxim Integrated Products

(MXIM) - Get Report

and

Burger King

(BKC)

.