August 29, 2012
US stocks ended little changed in another day of scarce activity on Tuesday after mixed economic data gave investors little reason to shift their focus from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on Friday.
The Fed chief is scheduled to address a conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and could announce new measures to boost growth. While Bernanke is expected to keep alive expectations for a third round of major bond buying by the Fed, or quantitative easing, he could keep markets guessing about the actual timing.
Volume was among the lightest of the year after Monday's lightest trading in 2012. August is a slow season, and investors mostly stayed on the sidelines, anticipating Bernanke's speech.
"I don't think you can read a lot from what's going on in the market right now," said John Fox, co-manager of the FAM Value Fund, in Cobleskill, New York. "Because there's nothing going on, everyone is waiting for the speech on Friday."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 21.68 points (0.17 per cent) to 13,102.99.
The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 1.14 (0.08 per cent) to 1409.30, while the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 3.95 (0.13 per cent) to 3077.14.
Wall Street stocks swung into and out of positive territory in thin trade.
Hopes are that Fed chief Bernanke will provide more information about the direction of monetary policy and stimulus measures at the annual gathering.
The Conference Board reported its consumer confidence index dropped to a nine-month low of 60.6 for August, down from 65.9 in July.
The report showed consumers grew less confident about business and job prospects in the coming months.
Before the opening bell, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 20 cities showed prices rose for the fifth straight month in June, by 1.0 per cent.
"Shaky consumer confidence is a worry, despite rising home values," said Jennifer Lee at BMO Capital Markets.
Shares in PVH Corp rose 4.8 per cent after the parent of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein reported second-quarter earnings and full-year guidance that topped expectations.
Colorado miner Molycorp powered 12.9 per cent higher after saying it was starting new heavy rare-earth concentrate facilities in California.
Lexmark International soared 13.7 per cent. The printing and imaging product manufacturer announced it was exiting inkjet printers in a restructuring that will cut 1,700 jobs.
Apple barely retreated from Monday's record high, edging down 0.1 per cent.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.63 per cent from 1.65 per cent Monday, while the 30-year yield slipped to 2.74 per cent from 2.76 per cent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.