NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks finished mixed Tuesday as the impact of upbeat consumer confidence data and a better-than-expected Italian bond auction was offset by losses in some big tech names.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 33 points, or 0.3%, to settle at 11,556. The blue-chip index briefly went positive for 2011 on an intraday basis, reaching a high of 11,624 during the session, but couldn't hold those gains. The
rose as well, adding 2.7 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1195.
was the odd man out, falling 12 points, or 0.5%, to 2516 , weighed down by
, which saw its credit rating downgraded at Standard & Poor's; and declines in large-cap names such as
Consumer confidence improved to a reading of 56 in November, higher than the revised reading of 40.9 for October and representing the largest monthly increase since April 2003. Economist surveyed by
were expecting a reading of 44.
"Confidence has bounded back to levels last seen during the summer (July 2011, 59.2)," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research center. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions finally improved, after six month of steady declines....Consumers appear to be entering the holiday season in better spirits, though overall readings remain historically weak."
The better than expected consumer confidence data helped mitigate the impact of a weak read on home prices and the decision of American Airlines parent
to seek bankruptcy protection.
notes Sham Gad is the managing partner of Gad Capital Management. "The unemployment rate and housing numbers are weak. But there is also a growth economy that exists."
Home prices continued to fall during the third quarter according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. The index rose 0.1% in September, but posted a year-over-year decline of 3.9% for the three month period. Economists expected the index to fall 3% year-over-year according to
and its parent
have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and CEO Gerard Arpey has retired. The filing comes after the world's third-largest carrier reached a point when it seems unable, after five years of talks, to reach a contract deal with its pilots union. AMR shares were plunging 80%.
There were also indications that Europe is making progress in addressing its debt situation. European Union finance ministers are expected to agree on a plan today to expand the region's bailout fund. So far, the European ministers have agreed on giving Greece its six and final tranche of 8 billion euros in bailout money.
Confidence in the ability of European leaders to resolve the region's debt crisis appeared to be improving, with Italy selling 7.5 billion euros ($10 billion) of debt Tuesday. However, the country had to offer record high yields to do so. Italy sold three-year bonds at a 7.89% yield and 10-year bonds at a 7.56% yield.
Still, Moody's said it could downgrade the subordinated debt of 87 banks across 15 countries on worries that governments wouldn't have the capacity to rescue them. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's warned of a possible downgrade on the outlook on France's triple-A credit rating.
"Financial institutions in the U.S. have not disclosed the amount of leverage they have to European debt through credit default swaps and derivatives," cautioned SICA Wealth Management manager Jeffrey Sica.
Amid ongoing worries about the impact of European debt crisis on U.S. growth, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen indicated Tuesday that the Federal Reserve still has room to stimulate the U.S. economy and curtail unemployment through another round of quantitative easing.
London's FTSE finished up 0.46% and Germany's DAX closed 0.95% higher. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Average finished up 2.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 1.21% .
In other corporate news, Thomas H. Lee Partners is reportedly interested in buying the U.S. operations of
, sources familiar with the matter told
. THL is hoping to do a leveraged buyout of Yahoo!'s U.S. business, which could be worth $5 billion to $6 billion, and draw on its experience running other media assets such as
to turn around the ailing company, the sources said. Yahoo! shares added 2.3%.
has been working secretly on an 11th-hour deal to salvage its $39 billion merger with
The New York Times
reported. AT&T is in talks with
to sell it a big piece of T-Mobile's customer accounts and some of its wireless spectrum, the
reported, citing people involved in the negotiations. AT&T shares rose 0.4%.
Research In Motion
( RIMM)shares gained 5.4% on news the Blackberry maker is branching out into security software for
iOS and Android devices.
Netflix's credit rating was lowered by Standard & Poor's on expectations the company will report a loss in 2012. S&P cut its assessment of
to 'BB-' from 'BB' and kept its outlook at stable.
is that escalating content commitments will lower profitability over the intermediate term, international expansion will have a greater impact on overall profitability, and a return of domestic subscriber growth could occur slightly later than we initially expected," S&P credit analyst Andy Liu said in a statement. The stock slid 3.4% to close at $67.57.
January oil futures finished near the psychologically important $100 mark, up $1.58 to $99.79 a barrel, and February gold futures ticked up $4.40 to close at $1,718.90.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 9/32, raising the yield to 2.009%. The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of currencies, with the U.S. dollar index down 0.3%.
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
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