NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Oil and Greece were the focus of 2014's penultimate trading session in what was an otherwise quiet day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped again after a multi-day record run and the S&P 500 fell from all-time highs as global oversupply of crude oil and political uncertainty in Greece caused Wall Street headaches.
The S&P 500 fell 0.49%, 13 points from its intraday high. The Dow dropped 0.3%, falling below 18,000, and the Nasdaq slid 0.61%.
Crude oil prices stabilized with West Texas Intermediate crude up 0.35% to $53.80 a barrel, though long-term commodity projections caused market jitters. A day earlier, the commodity had briefly moved higher as fires wiped out three oil-storage tanks at Libya's central export terminal, giving hope of a solution to global oversupply.
"Despite the drop in oil prices, producers, particularly U.S. shale focused companies, continue to try to maintain output due to debt service and other cash flow needs," said James Abate, CIO of Centre Funds, in an email.
U.S. oil production remains at multi-decade highs and could "undercut prices in the near term," Wells Fargo's chief international strategist Paul Christopher said in a report. "Our 2015 year-end West Texas Intermediate crude oil price target range of $60-$70 per barrel allows for large potential price swings."
European markets moved lower, continuing to be pressured by Greece's failed parliamentary election a day earlier. Greece will now head to a general election to vote for a president in January. International investors are nervous that the left-wing Syriza party could win, putting the country's austerity plans in jeopardy. France's CAC 40, Germany's DAX and London's FTSE 100 were each trading lower, while the Athens Stock Exchange was down 0.45%.
The economy looked brighter stateside as consumer confidence came in just below economists' expectations at 92.6 in December versus an estimated 93. That reading improved upon November's 88.7 as lower gasoline prices continue to pad out consumers' savings.
"Falling gasoline prices, buoyant stock prices, and stronger labor markets have propelled readings of consumer confidence in recent months, and these positive developments have already begun to translate into stronger consumer spending," said Barclays' Jesse Hurwitz. "Despite the smaller-than-expected monthly increase in the Conference Board's index, the December reading is consistent with our view that the consumer sector remains strong through the end of 2014."
Precious metals miners rallied as the price of gold recovered from Monday's losses, climbing above $1,200 per ounce on a weaker U.S. dollar and falling international markets. Barrick Gold (ABX) , Newmont Mining (NEM) , Kinross Gold (KGC) , Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) and Goldcorp (GG) were all higher, while the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) jumped 1.4%.
Analysts' actions caused market ripples on Tuesday. Yelp (YELP) shares were 2.3% higher after MKM analyst Rob Sanderson reiterated a bullish "buy" rating, citing opportunities in new markets. Akamai Technologies (AKAM) was up 0.5% after D.A. Davidson analysts increased their price target on the basis the company can realize better operating leverage.
GoPro (GPRO) shares added nearly 1% as Pacific Crest Big-Box checks indicated strong holiday demand for the durable camera maker. Analysts raised their full-year profit estimates to $1.05 a share from $1.01. Biotherapeutic drug maker Xenoport (XNPT) spiked 5.6% after RBC Capital analyst Michael Yee named the company an "under the radar" pick for the year ahead.
Neuroderm (NDRM) shares rocketed to a one-year high, up 194.2%, after announcing encouraging results in trials of its Parkinson's disease treatment. Trading volume was nearly 300 times its daily average.
Oil company Civeo Corp (CVEO) plunged after reporting first-quarter guidance well below consensus due to plunging oil prices. The company also suspended its quarterly dividend.
Commercial REIT American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP) jumped more than 7% as activist investor Keith Meister's Corvex Management disclosed a 7.1% stake in the company. The investment firm said the company is currently undergoing a "time of transition" that presents a unique opportunity.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.