Stocks finished lower Tuesday. The Dow lost 33 points to 26,057 while the S&P 500 slipped 2 points to 2,793. The Nasdaq Composite fell 5 points to 7,549.
The major averages declined in choppy trading as investors digested economic and central bank updates. On the data front, the Conference Board reported consumer confidence rebounded sharply in February to 131.4 from the prior 121.7 reading. Another report showed manufacturing activity in the Richmond Fed district strengthened more than anticipated in February. Additional readings revealed housing starts fell 11.2% in December, while building permits gained 0.3%. During his semi-annual testimony on monetary policy to the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted that policymakers will remain “patient” in future rate hikes.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in negative territory. The Materials group lagged with Newmont Mining down 3.2% to $34.95. In earnings, Home Depot lost 0.9% to $188.30 after providing forward guidance below Wall Street’s expectations. AutoZone added 5.1% to $935.00 while JM Smucker climbed 5.0% to $106.09 after both companies beat consensus estimates on both the top and bottom line. Macy’s gained 1.5% to $24.72 after announcing a cost saving restructuring plan.
Breadth was negative on issues by 2:1 on the NYSE and by 7:4 on the Nasdaq. NYSE Composite volume was 3.6 billion shares.
Treasuries strengthened with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down three basis points to 2.64%. In commodities, WTI crude added 0.3% to $55.65/barrel. COMEX gold fell 0.1% to $1,325.10/ounce despite a weaker dollar.