Stocks edge lower after earnings from retailers
New York » Stocks were slightly lower on Wall Street Tuesday as investors picked over another round of corporate earnings, this time from retailers including Best Buy, Home Depot and the parent company of T.J. Maxx.
The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,957 as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow was moving between slight gains and losses for much of the day.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,786 and the Nasdaq composite fell 22 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,926.
Retailers were a key focus for investors Tuesday, especially with the holiday shopping season coming up. Best Buy sank $3.81, or 9 percent, to $39.73 after the company warned that competition from online electronics retailers was going to further squeeze its profit margins.
TJX Cos., which operates discount stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, climbed 59 cents, or 1 percent, to $62.98. Its income rose 35 percent as sales improved at both U.S. and international stores.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 hit round-number milestones Monday. The Dow crossed 16,000 and the S&P 500 hit 1,800 for the first time. Neither index closed above those levels, however.
The S&P 500 is up 26 percent so far in 2013 and has risen for six weeks straight, the longest winning streak since February. The extended run-up has prompted a number of market watchers to call for caution.
"We've had a phenomenal run, particularly in the last few weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if we would pull back from here," said Alec Young, global equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ.
Young said the next things to watch for will be the Senate's confirmation of Janet Yellen as the new head of the Federal Reserve, which is expected to happen Thursday.
There's also Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. U.S. consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so how consumers behave during the closely watched holiday season will be important for investors.
Investors are also watching JPMorgan Chase. The Justice Department and JPMorgan have reportedly reached a $13 billion agreement to settle various allegations over how the bank handled its mortgage-backed securities business. The agreement could be announced as early as Tuesday. JPMorgan rose 70 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $56.43.
Among other stocks making big moves, Home Depot rose the most in the Dow, gaining 92 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $80.60. The home improvement chain reported earnings that surpassed what investors were expecting and raised its earnings forecast for the year.
Campbell Soup dropped $2.45, or 6 percent, after reporting that its quarterly profit plunged 30 percent as U.S. sales of soups and V8 declined. A recall of the recently acquired Plum Organics products also hurt results, and the company cut its earnings forecast for the year.
United Continental rose $1.29, or 3.5 percent, to $37.67 after the airline operator told investors that it will cut costs, overhaul its website, and shift routes from Asia to Europe.
In U.S. government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.71 percent from 2.67 percent. Crude oil rose 27 cents to $93.25 a barrel and gold edged up $1.20 to $1,273.50 an ounce.