Stock Market Today: Stocks Mixed as Oil Prices Unsettle Markets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed on Tuesday with the S&P 500 sustaining its first two-day losing streak in three weeks. Any investor confidence from last week's record highs was undercut by falling oil prices and global growth concerns.

The S&P 500 slid 0.29% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.33%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average pared earlier losses, gaining 0.1% by market close with its transports and utilities sectors touching record highs.

Watch the video below for a closer look at how U.S. markets ended the trading day Tuesday:

"This is a noisy kind of day," Wells Fargo's Scott Wren told TheStreet. "Earnings continue to come in good, not great, [and] the economic data continues to suggest that we're in a modest growth environment without a lot of inflation." Wells Fargo maintained its forecast for the S&P 500 to close between 2,050 and 2,100 by year's end.

Prices for West Texas Intermediate oil slumped 2.03% to $77.18 a barrel and Brent crude slid 2.47% to $82.69 a barrel after Saudi Arabia slashed the price of imports for December delivery by 45 cents from a month earlier.

Sector heavyweights Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) fell 0.79% and 1.3%, respectively, and the Energy Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded fund (XLE) tumbled 2.1%.

"If the oil price is down because it's a waning economic growth story globally, then that's a concern for investors," said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist for Voya Investment Management, in a phone call. "If it continues to go down due to waning global growth (and therefore, deflationary), that would spell trouble for corporate earnings and for the economy as a whole."

Adding to global growth concerns, the European Commission tempered its expectations for the eurozone through 2016 on continued deflation concerns and unemployment woes. The body cut its forecast for growth next year to 1.1% from 1.7% with significantly lowered estimates for the region's two largest economies, Germany and France.

Soft guidance also shook investor confidence. Priceline (PCLN) shares were the worst performers of the S&P, down nearly 9% after offering fourth-quarter guidance of $9.40 to $10.10 a share compared to analysts' estimates of at least $10.91. Michael Kors (KORS) fell 8.4% after the luxury brand forecast profit for the holiday season below analysts' estimates.

Herbalife (HLF) tanked more than 20% after being downgraded to "neutral" with a lowered price target at SunTrust following disappointing third-quarter earnings.

Alibaba (BABA) , the Chinese e-commerce giant, posted revenue in the July-September quarter that was 53.9% higher year over year, to $2.74 billion, while net income of 45 cents a share came in as expected. Shares closed 3.6% higher.

Office Depot (ODP) was another rare gainer on Tuesday, adding more than 23% after quarterly net income of 10 cents a share exceeded estimates by a penny.

In other news, U.S. citizens headed to the polls Tuesday for the mid-term elections, the results of which could set the stage for the 2016 presidential elections. The results will also determine whether Republicans can take hold of the Senate.

Should Republicans win, Raymond James' Jeffrey D. Saut wrote in a note: "The equity markets [could] rally into an upside blow-off move. That would fit nicely with the typical 'buying stampede' that is now at session 14 in the typical 17-to-25 session progression."

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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