Profit-taking, weak data weigh on Wall Street

Profit-taking, weak data weigh on Wall Street

New York: The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell on Tuesday as investors booked profits following the stock market’s recent run-up, while a weaker-than-expected reading on a measure of consumer confidence raised doubts about spending.

Technology and consumer discretionary shares fared worse than the broader market as investors sold recent winners. Baidu Inc’s disappointing outlook added to the negative tone for tech names. The semiconductor index shed 2.5%.

Even so, the Dow Jones industrial average eked out a slim gain after IBM raised its share repurchase plan to $9.2 billion and shares of Exxon Mobil and Chevron rose on the back of BP Plc’s strong earnings.

The day’s declines marked the third straight day of losses for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

“People want to take some profits. The consumer confidence numbers weren’t great," said Stephen Carl, principal and head of US equity trading at The Williams Capital Group LP in New York. “We had a good run with the Dow topping around 10,000 over the last week. Many people feel the market could be overvalued."

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14.21 points, or 0.14%, to 9,882.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 3.54 points, or 0.33%, to 1,063.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 25.76 points, or 1.20%, to 2,116.09.

Baidu, the Chinese Web Search company’s stock, down 11.4% at $383.66, was the second-worst drag on the Nasdaq, behind Apple Inc, which fell 2.5 percent to $197.37.

Shares of Google Inc, the world’s leading Web Search company, declined 1.1% to $548.29, a day after Baidu forecast a sequential decline in fourth-quarter revenue.

But Exxon Mobil shares shot up 2.3% to $74.91, while Chevron shares climbed 1.5% to $76.59 following BP’s results. The energy sector also got a boost from a bounce in crude oil prices. US front-month crude ended up 87 cents, or 1.11%, at $79.55 a barrel.

After the bell, Visa Inc, the world’s largest payment network, posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit, raised its dividend and authorized a stock-buyback plan. Its stock rose 1.3% to $74.86 in after-hours trading.

Visa shares ended regular trading at $73.90.

On the economic front, the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell to 47.7 in October, weaker than economists had forecast. The data showed consumers were increasingly concerned about job market conditions.

The S&P retail index fell 1.6% and the S&P consumer discretionaries index dropped 1.7%.

Other data showed home prices rose for the fourth-straight month in August. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose more than expected in August.

Broadly, the S&P 500 is now up 57.2% from the 12-year closing low of 9 March. At Tuesday’s close, it showed a drop of 3.1% from its post-March closing peak reached about a week ago on 19 October.

Volume was moderate on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.40 billion shares changing hands, below last year’s estimated daily average of 1.49 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 2.42 billion shares traded, above last year’s daily average of 2.28 billion.