- Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.05 (-0.01%) to 12,982.95.
- S&P 500up 2.28 (+0.17%) to 1,365.74.
- Nasdaq Composite Index up 6.77 (+0.23%) to 2,963.75.
- Hang Seng Index up 0.12%.
- China Shanghai Composite Index up 1.25%
- FTSE 100 down 0.02%.
Stocks faded near the close, ending little changed, with traders apparently unwilling to hold long positions heading into the weekend and taking some profits off the table.
Equities tested multi-year highs earlier in the session, supported by unexpectedly strong new home sales and rising consumer confidence in the U.S. economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Index crossed 13,000 several times today while the S&P 500 index has again climbed near its best level since June 2008 before easing into the close.
Helping support the early gains was the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment rising to a 75.3 reading in February from 75 in January. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for 73, up from a 72.5 preliminary reading.
Sales of new single-family homes actually fell slightly in January from the prior month, according to the Commerce Department, but still topped forecasts and the agency also upwardly revised data from December. Purchases during January to 0.9%, to a 321,000 annual pace, down from the revised 324,000 rate recorded in December. The median estimate of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a rise in the annualized pace to 315,000.
Financial stocks struggled throughout the day and were later joined by consumer staples companies along with industrial and material firms heading lower. The best gains today were shown by energy companies, following crude oil rising for a seventh day in a row, settling at $109.77 a barrel, up $1.94. Gold was lower.
In company news, shares of American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) were set to close up nearly 2% after the insurer reported Q4 EPS of $0.82, ex items, well above Street estimates of $0.63 per share. Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) was nearly 9% higher today, leading gains for the S&P 500, after Q4 earning of $0.43 a share, ex items, on $632 million in revenues, exceeded the analyst consensus on Thomson Reuters of $0.40 a share and $624 million in revenues.
Retailer J.C. Penney Co Inc (NYSE:JCP) was down nearly 1% today after reversing a year-ago profit and reporting a drop in same-store sales.
(+) CHTP, FDA panel recommends hypotension drug for U.S. sales.
(+) KCP, Founder proposes $280 million going-private transaction.
(-) LYG, Reports $4.37 billion net loss for FY11; warns 2012 could be worse. (-)
(-) KND, Q4 EPS, revenues miss Street estimates; guides below analyst forecasts.