NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks moved off session lows Tuesday in a choppy final trading day of the first quarter as crude oil prices declined.
The S&P 500 was down 0.27%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.36%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.32%. All benchmark indexes added more than 1% on Monday but if no gains are forthcoming on Tuesday likely will close out the month with losses.
Crude oil prices fell as commodity traders focused on stalled negotiations between Iran and six world powers over a nuclear deal. If passed as proposed, Iran will be restricted from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Easing sanctions would mean the release of Iranian oil into an already-oversupplied global commodity market.
Leaders have given themselves a deadline of 6 p.m. EDT on which to agree on a preliminary nuclear deal. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.1% to $48.62 a barrel.
Consumer confidence jumped to 101.3 in March, according to the Conference Board's monthly survey. That was an improvement on February's 98.8 reading and better than an expected 95.5. Confidence hit its highest level since before the Great Recession in January.
Business activity in the Chicago region grew to 46.3 in March from 45.8 a month earlier, according to the latest Chicago PMI figures. However, the reading remains below the 50 level indicative of contraction for its second straight month.
Residential real estate values grew 4.6% year over year in January, according to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, despite harsh winter weather. Denver and Miami saw the biggest gains over the past year, up 8.4% and 8.3%, respectively.
The U.S. dollar continued to climb against other major international currencies, looking to close out its best quarter since 2008. The euro headed for its worst quarter on record, down around 11% since January as the eurozone and U.S. diverge in monetary policy.
U.S. Steel (X) - Get Report dropped more than 3% on news it will temporarily idle its Minntac plant of its Minnesota Ore Operations, effective June 1. The company said the move was due to "challenging market conditions."
IBM (IBM) - Get Report moved 0.8% lower after announcing it will invest $3 billion over the next four years building an "Internet of Things" unit. The division will aim to develop technology to gather and analyze real-time data.