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Overnight Markets: US stocks down on weak economic data

A drop in consumer confidence and weak data in home prices offset gains in Home Depot and other retail shares.

 
Overnight Markets: US stocks down on weak economic data

Wall Street edged lower on Tuesday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 failing to break a record for a second day, as weak data in home prices and a drop in consumer confidence offset gains in Home Depot and other retail shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27 points or 0.17%, to end at 16,180. The S&P 500 slipped two points or 0.13%, to finish at 1,845. The Nasdaq Composite dropped five points or 0.13%, to close at 4,288.

Shares declined led by financials and industrials after the data showed gains in US home prices slowed in December, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, while the consumer confidence index fell more than expected in February.

Home Depot shares rose 4%, giving the biggest boost to both the Dow and the S&P 500. Home Depot's earnings beat expectations, though sales declined more than expected in the fourth quarter.

Macy's Inc (M.N) added 6% after the department store operator reported a drop in January sales, but said fourth-quarter earnings rose from the previous year.

Among other corporate results, Tenet Healthcare Corp (THC.N) slid 9.1% after it swung to a net loss in its fourth quarter. Tenet's adjusted earnings, however, were better than expected.  Office Depot Inc. (ODP) lost 8.8% after reporting an unexpected loss.

Perry Ellis International Inc (PERY.O) plunged 17.5% a day after the clothing company forecast a decline in quarterly revenue.

First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) dropped 12.3% after the bell as the solar panel maker reported that its fourth-quarter net income fell 58%.

Investors are cautious as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak on Thursday to the Senate Banking Committee in her semiannual testimony about monetary policy.

In Asia, shares declined on Wednesday after a report showed flagging US consumer confidence and amid concern about a growth slowdown in China.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.2% to 138 as of 10:59 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index slid 0.4% with trading volume more than 29 percent less than its 30-day intraday average.

South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.2% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index retreated 0.1%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.3%, while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 0.2%.

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Where do retail bonds fit in my portfolio?

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