Stocks pared losses by late morning Tuesday in choppy trading as investors digested April numbers on consumer prices and industrial activity.
The S&P 500 was down 0.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.23%. The Dow fell 100 points at its session low.
Industrial production increased 0.7%, its biggest gain since November 2014 and the first increase in three months. Economists had expected industrial activity to expand 0.3% in April. Utility production was one of the biggest drivers, increasing by 5.8%, its most since 2007. Electricity production saw its biggest increase in more than nine years.
"With the strong gains in utility production likely to be unsustainable and the rebound in the manufacturing sector looking vulnerable, the outlook for the industrial sector appears to be quite weak -- particularly given signs of some softening in underlying domestic momentum," Millan Mulraine, deputy chief U.S. macro strategist at TD Securities, wrote in a note.
Consumer prices rose 0.4% in April, slightly higher than a forecast 0.3% increase. Core prices, excluding food and energy, climbed 0.2%, as analysts had expected. Core consumer prices over the past 12 months rose 2.1%.
Housing starts rose 6.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million, recovering the bulk of March's decline, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Homebuilder permits increased 3.6% to 1.12 million.
Apple(AAPL) - Get Report reclaimed its crown as the world's largest company on Monday after a Warren Buffett-inspired rally pulled the iPhone maker back from last week's multi-year lows. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway(BRK.A) - Get Report disclosed a stake in Apple worth nearly $900 million on Monday morning.
David Einhorn's hedge fund Greenlight Capital also jumped in on Apple, increasing its holdings in the tech giant and Yahoo! (YHOO) during the first quarter. Greenlight purchased 1.9 million Apple shares, boosting its position to 8.2 million.
Crude oil appeared to stabilize on Tuesday morning, trading at seven-month highs, as production outages in Nigeria and decreased production from a wildfire-stricken Alberta region relieved a supply glut. Crude hit highs on Monday after Goldman Sachs analysts turned bullish on the oil market, predicting a $50 level in the back half of the year.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading at $48 a barrel on Tuesday.
Home Depot(HD) - Get Report was slightly higher after topping first-quarter forecasts and raising its full-year guidance. The DIY retail chain earned an adjusted $1.44 a share in its recent quarter, 8 cents above estimates. The retailer benefited from a robust housing market and customer appetite for home-improvement projects even as overall retail trends suffered in the start to the year.
Lending Club(LC) - Get Report tumbled 14% after disclosing it had received a federal subpoena only days after the forced resignation of CEO Renaud Laplanche over the failure to report improper loan sales. The peer-to-peer lender's subpoena concerned "non-conforming sales" likely tied to the $22 million in loans sold in March and April to an investor which didn't fit criteria.
Pandora (P) jumped 5% after activist investor Corvex Management urged a sale. The investment firm, which owns 8.3% of Pandora, said the company has been unable to "translate its great product into a great business with an attractive public market valuation."