Stocks extended declines on Tuesday as a selloff in the basic materials and financials sector tainted broader markets.
The S&P 500 was down 0.58%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.55%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.64%. The Nasdaq hit a new intraday high of 5,928 earlier in the session. Stocks had posted modest gains when markets opened Tuesday.
"Since hitting new highs on March 1 the indices have done little," said James "Rev Shark" Deporre in his column for RealMoney, our premium site for investors. "There was a brief flurry of buying following the Fed interest rate decision last Wednesday, but it has been very sloppy action within a tight trading range ... The bullish spin on this dull action is that it is healthy consolidation that is a set up for another thrust higher."
The basic materials sector was the worst performer on Tuesday. Industry leaders including BHP Billiton (BHP) , Rio Tinto (RIO) , Vale (VALE - Get Report) , and LyondellBasell (LYB - Get Report) were all sharply lower, while the Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB - Get Report) fell 0.6%.
The financials sector was also lower, continuing its decline from a day earlier. Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) , JPMorgan (JPM - Get Report) , Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) , and Citigroup (C - Get Report) declined, while the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF - Get Report) dropped 1.2%.
Apple (AAPL - Get Report) rose to new records on Tuesday after announcing the launch of its 9.7-inch iPad and a special "red" edition of its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple's "red" products are part of its campaign to raise funds for the fight against AIDS. The special edition smartphones will be available in stores on March 24. Apple shares climbed nearly 1%.
A number of Federal Reserve officials will be making the rounds on Tuesday following the decision last week to increase rates: Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George will speak on the U.S. economy and the Fed at a Women in Housing and Finance event in Washington at 12 p.m. EDT; Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is scheduled to speak at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., at 6 p.m.; and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will address the 12th Asia-Pacific High Level Meeting on Banking Supervision in Bali, Indonesia, at 9:45 p.m.
Crude oil prices lost earlier highs by market open Tuesday after settling at a near one-week low a day earlier. Prices have been under pressure on signs of ballooning U.S. stockpiles and an uptick in global production. Weekly data on Friday showed another increase in oil-drilling rig activity in the U.S.
West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.4% to $48.03 a barrel on Tuesday.
"Crude oil prices are still suffering from its last technical breakdown, from which it will take a bit more time to recover," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "Despite increasing levels of domestic production, we continue to see a rebalancing of the market in the second half of the year with prices trading between $60 and $65."
Other than that, the economic calendar does not heat up until later in the week. Existing home sales for February will be released on Wednesday; new home sales for February are set for Thursday; and durable goods orders for February are scheduled for Friday.
The second day of confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch to serve as the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice will be getting underway Tuesday morning. Hearings began late Monday morning. In an unprecedented move a year earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing for Obama's pick, Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia's death that February.
Lennar (LEN - Get Report) fell Tuesday despite reporting a better-than-expected quarter driven by healthy demand in the housing market. Net income fell to 56 cents a share from 63 cents a year earlier, though came in a penny higher than anticipated. Revenue of $2.34 billion exceeded estimates of $2.14 billion. Home deliveries rose to 5,433 from 4,806.
General Mills (GIS - Get Report) was slightly lower after sales came in slightly weaker than forecast. The packaged foods company earned an adjusted 72 cents a share, higher than a target of 71 cents, though revenue fell 5.2% to $3.79 billion. Analysts anticipated revenue of $3.82 billion. General Mills anticipates full-year earnings growth between 5% and 7%, more than expected.
Carnival (CCL - Get Report) was upgraded to outperform from market perform at William Blair. Analysts said the company will likely beat earnings estimates as it enjoys favorable trends through this year and next.
Wall Street ended an up-and-down session with mixed results on Monday as the S&P 500 fell and the Nasdaq held close to its flatline. Stocks have struggled for direction this week as Wall Street comes down from a rally last week following the Fed's decision to hike rates.
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