NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks slumped Tuesday, finishing November down 1%, as concerns about eurozone debt contagion offset improving U.S. economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 46 points, or 0.42%, to close at 11,006, losing ground for the third day in a row. It was a volatile session for the blue-chip index, which ranged as low as 10,942 but crawled all the way into a positive territory late in the afternoon before turning lower again into the close. The S&P 500 fell 7 points, or 0.6%, to 1180, while the Nasdaq Composite was especially weak, losing 27 points, or 1.1%, to settle at 2498. November goes into the books as a negative month for equities with the selling fueled by concerns about effectiveness of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing efforts and the resurgent debt problems in Europe. These factors overshadowed a generally strong earnings season where 73% of the companies in the S&P 500 topped Wall Street's expectations for the their quarterly results, according to Thomson Reuters. United Technologies ( UTX), Walt Disney ( DIS) and Caterpillar ( CAT) were among the strongest gainers within the Dow on Tuesday, while Bank of America ( BAC), Procter& Gamble ( PG) and Pfizer ( PFE) were among the biggest blue-chip losers. Market unease about the debt situation in the eurozone was evident on Tuesday as yields on Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Belgian bonds increased. The euro continued to decline, slipping below the $1.30 mark for the first time since mid-September. The euro was last down 1.1% to $1.2982. The FTSE in London declined 0.4% and the DAX in Frankfurt finished 0.1% lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7% and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.9%. In the U.S., market declines were stemmed by better-than-expected consumer confidence numbers and manufacturing data. "Eurozone contagion fears weighed heavily on the market this morning but the underlying reasons that stocks began paring losses were the consumer confidence and Chicago PMI data," said Jay Suskind, senior vice president at Duncan Williams. "There seems to be an underlying feeling that maybe Europe's problems will stay in Europe and meanwhile, the U.S. economy is starting to come back so maybe we need to separate these two marketplaces."
Suskind added that the market expects solid economic numbers this week leading up to the November jobs report on Friday when the Labor Department is projected to report job growth of 130,000 positions, according to Briefing.com. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 9.6%. A better-than-expected read on November consumer confidence from the Conference Board helped U.S. stocks pare earlier losses. According to the report,
consumer confidence rose to its highest level since June, hitting 54.1 in November after coming in at 49.9 in October. November's level outpaced the reading of 52 that Wall Street had projected, according to Briefing.com.
The improved consumer sentiment comes amid news that
"Cyber Monday" sales jumped 19.4% year over year as of midnight, according to IBM's Coremetrics. Average order values rose 8.3% to $194.89 from $180.03 previously. Jewelry was one of the bestselling categories. The National Retail Federation estimated that 212 million shoppers visited stores and online sites during the first weekend of the holiday shopping season. That compares with 195 million a year ago. According to Experian, Amazon ( AMZN) saw the most business on "Black Friday," followed by Wal-Mart ( WMT), Target ( TGT), Best Buy ( BBY) and JCPenney ( JCP). Wal-Mart gained 0.5% to $54.09 while Amazon's stock was off by 2.3% at $175.40. Manufacturing activity in the Chicago area jumped to a November reading of 62.5, according to the Chicago Purchasing Managers index from Chicago's Institute for Supply Management. The level surpassed the reading of 59.6 that economists had been expecting, according to Briefing.com. November's figure compares with October's level of 60.6. Home prices dropped 2% in the third quarter after gaining 4.7% in the second quarter and prices fell 1.5% in September, according to the Case-Shiller Index. The 20-city home price index grew 0.6%, disappointing expectations for a 1% uptick, according to Briefing.com. In other news, President Obama said that there were still disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of extension of tax cuts to the wealthy, but that the two sides were willing to negotiate. He appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and budget director Jack Lew to work on a deal that would prevent broad tax increases in the coming year. Healthcare and technology were the weakest sectors on Tuesday. Big pharma names Pfizer ( PFE) and Novartis ( NVS) shed 1.6% and 2.1% respectively. Novartis plans to cut 1400 drug sales positions next year in a bid to cut costs as it prepares for new product introductions.
Google ( GOOG) dragged tech stocks lower, tumbled 4.5% to $555.71 on news that is the subject of a European Commission antitrust investigation. The commission is determining whether the search company abused its position as the dominant search engine in online searches. Shares of
Barnes & Noble ( BKS) fell 5.7% to $14.02 after the bookseller reported a wider-than-expected loss of 22 cents a share on sales of $1.91 billion. Analysts had been looking for a loss of 8 cents a share on sales of $1.98 billion. Barnes & Noble also issued third-quarter and full-year guidance that fell short of Wall Street estimates. Shares of Citigroup ( C) rose 1.2% to $4.20 after Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski reiterated an outperform rating on the stock with a price target of $5.20. Bank of America dropped 3.2% on speculation that whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks will release damaging information about the company early next year. Shares of Research In Motion ( RIMM) jumped 4.8% to $61.83 after Jefferies upgraded the stock to a buy from a hold. Gold mining stocks were climbing on higher gold prices. Novagold ( NG) and Barrick Gold ( ABX) were notable winners, up 2.1% and 2.6% at $14.39 and $51.65 respectively. Shares of Merck ( MRK) dipped 0.6% to $34.47 as the company named its president, Kenneth Frazier, to the additional position of CEO. Frazier succeeds Richard Clark who has served as CEO since 2005 and will continue as chairman effective Jan. 1, 2011. Level3 ( LVLT) lodged a complaint against Comcast ( CMCSA) over fees the broadband provider is charging for streaming movies over its network, arguing that Comcast was violating the principle of "net neutrality". The stock ticked higher by 0.5% to close at $1. Shares of Comcast were down 0.9% to $20.03. Shares of Netflix ( NFLX), which has a content sharing agreement with Level3, rose 3.5% to $205.90. The January crude oil contract was down by $1.62 to settle at $84.11 a barrel. The most actively traded February gold contract soared $18.60 to settle at $1,386.10 an ounce. The dollar traded higher against a basket of currencies with the dollar index up by 0.6%, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 8/32, diluting the yield to 2.799%. . --Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.