NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks closed mixed Tuesday as investors mostly stood pat ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Jackson Hole, Wyo. global economic symposium this weekend.
It was another light volume session with the slow trading colored by several gloomy reports on the global economy and a weak reading on consumer confidence.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
finished down nearly 22 points, or 0.17%, at 13,103. The blue-chip index, which has now lost ground in five of the past six sessions, ranged less than 70 points on the day.
Nineteen of the Dow's 30 components closed lower. The biggest percentage decliners were
Bank of America
Bank of America's wealth-management unit plans to host a conference call Tuesday with Paulson & Co.'s John Paulson, allowing some of its financial advisers and their clients to question the struggling hedge fund chief, sources at the bank confirmed with
. The stock closed down 1.4%.
Blue-chip gainers included
was dipped a little more than a point to settle at 1409.30. The
added nearly 4 points, or 0.13%, to close at 3077.
The weakest sectors in the broad market were transportation, technology and capital goods, while consumer non-cyclicals, financials and services were pockets of strength.
Volumes totaled 2.61 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.36 billion on the Nasdaq.
"The financial markets have another big event on the horizon, which is likely to keep trading relatively subdued," said Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS. "The economics holiday camp that is the Jackson Hole Symposium gets underway at the end of the week offers an opportunity for a more in depth, serious discussion of less conventional monetary policy."
"We do not expect Chairman Bernanke's speech on Friday morning, entitled 'Monetary Policy Since the Crisis,' to shed much additional light on the near-term tactics of monetary policy beyond last week's FOMC minutes," wrote economists at Goldman Sachs. "Instead, the main question is whether he breaks new ground regarding the Fed's longer-term strategy."
While Bernanke is expected to speak on Friday at Jackson Hole, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has decided not to attend the Jackson Hole summit because of the "heavy workload foreseen in the next few days," a spokesman said. This is now "fueling speculation" that "something may be brewing" for the ECB meeting on Sept. 6, noted RBS economists.
The U.S. economic data was mixed. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to a nine-month low of 60.6 in August, from a downwardly revised 65.4 in July, as consumers took on a more pessimistic outlook. Economists thought the confidence index would increase to 66 in August.
A read on the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed a rise annually of 0.5% in June after a decline of 0.7% in May. Economists expected a fall of 0.1% annually in June.
For the second straight month, all 20 cities recorded positive monthly gains.
Michelle Meyer, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America, said that the home price data supports her view that national home prices bottomed at the beginning of the year. "That said, the recovery is likely to be bumpy and we expect softening into year-end."
On consumer confidence, she noted that weakness was concentrated in the expectations component, "which likely reflects uncertainty around the fiscal cliff and election;" adding that the economy has been slow to recover with limited job opportunities, heightened international risks and political uncertainty. "This will keep consumers on edge and the economic growth sluggish."
Overseas markets were subdued as global growth anxieties overshadowed hopes for global central bank accommodation, with Japan slashing its assessment of the economy, referencing a slowdown in the U.S. and China, and the European debt crisis. Japan warned of potential risks for the country due to the sluggish global environment.
Spain's second-quarter gross domestic product shrank 1.3% from last year, worse than the prior estimate of a 1% contraction and indicating that the country was in a deeper recession than previously thought. The data was overshadowing improved eurozone lending data.
Meanwhile, the Spanish region of Catalonia is planning to request €5.02 billion ($6.28 billion) in financial aid from the Spanish government's liquidity program.
A meeting was taking place between European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid Tuesday to talk about the economic crisis and Spain's efforts to avoid having to seek a sovereign bailout.
The FTSE in London closed down 0.02% and the DAX in Germany settled lower by 0.64%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng index finished up 0.07% and the Nikkei in Japan closed down 0.57%.
October crude oil futures closed up 86 cents at $96.33 a barrel and December gold futures settled down $5.90 at $1,669.70 an ounce.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 5/32, diluting the yield to 1.639%. The greenback was down 0.37%, according to the
On the corporate front,
shares rose more than 17% after the watch company hiked its full-year earnings outlook as its second-quarter net income increased 83% year-over-year amid a jump in net sales, expansion in gross margin and a more than doubling of operating income.
advanced nearly 14% after the company said it plans to cut 1,700 jobs globally, including 1,100 manufacturing positions, as part of a restructuring. The actions include eliminating its global inkjet development operations.
said it's receiving an upfront payment of $10 million for licensing its Acuform drug delivery technology patents to
Johnson & Johnson
unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The stock was rose close to 3%.
has selected three new directors, including
CEO Fred Tomczyk, three weeks after it received a $400 million injection from outside investors. The shares lost 1%.
popped more than 5% after the apparel maker, whose brands include Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, topped Wall Street's earnings expectations for its fiscal second quarter and gave a strong third-quarter outlook after Monday's closing bell.
shares soared more than 32% as insurance consultancy
agreed to buy the insurance-holding company for about $249.3 million.
2012 Stock Predictions and Outlook
--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
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