Stocks Close Lower as Consumer Confidence Weakens, May Continue to Drift Sideways

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Markets closed lower Tuesday as consumer confidence ultimately weighed on a choppy trading session in New York.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed off 0.17% to 16,179.66, while the S&P 500 lost 0.13% to 1,845.12. The Nasdaq dropped 0.13 to 4,287.59.
  • "A little bit of profit-taking today," Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, said in a phone interview from New York. "I think the market will drift sideways ... probably tomorrow waiting to take away any nuggets that [Chairwoman Janet] Yellen will have to say in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday."
  • Consumer confidence for February fell to 78.1 from 79.4 the prior month; economist were looking for a reading of 80.
  • U.S. home prices rose 11.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013, the S&P/Case-Shiller price index showed Tuesday. The December FHFA Housing Price Index also reflected a rise, with U.S. house prices up 1.2% in the fourth quarter and 0.8% higher for the month.
  • The S&P 500 hit a fresh record during intraday trade Monday as expectations of a European Union aid package to the Ukraine boosted European markets, while domestic M&A activity continued.
  • In stock news, Macy's  (M) rose 6% after announcing a fifth year of double-digit earnings-per-share growth. Online retailer Zulily  (ZU) leapt 36.3% after doubling its sales for the fourth quarter against the same period last year. Tesla (TSLA) jumped 13.9% after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the stock to $320 from $153 on its planned "gigafactory." Home Depot (HD) rose 4% after quarterly earnings per share of 73 cents topped Wall Street estimates of 71 cents.
  • On the flipside, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) shed 1.7%, as the company revealed in an investor presentation that it may cut 8,000 jobs at its consumer and mortgage banking divisions as home loan demand continues to weaken; the cuts are in addition to the 13,000 to 15,000 jobs that are already in the process of being eliminated. Tenet Healthcare (THC) slid 8.6% after reporting a fourth-quarter loss as results were weighed down by expenses tied to the buyout of Vanguard Health Systems.
  • International markets were largely weaker despite the sharp gains in the U.S. market as the People's Bank of China drained liquidity through the sale of RMB100 billion ($16.4 billion) of 14-day repurchase agreements, and mining stocks declined amid softer metal prices.
  • The FTSE 100 in the U.K. closed down 0.52%, the DAX in Germany was off 0.10%, the Nikkei 225 in Japan settled up 1.44%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.32%, and the Shanghai Composite slid 2.05%

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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