News of the International Monetary Fund's short-term credit plan to help Europe isn't enough to keep the Dow in positive territory.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were mixed Tuesday as investors digested news of the International Monetary Fund's short term credit plan to help Europe and assessed the chances of further policy easing based on the minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 48 points, or 0.4%, at 11,499 after a loss of some 108 points at its low today. The S&P 500 was off 4 points, or 0.3%, at 1189, and the Nasdaq was up less than 3 points at 2526.
The liquidity lines from the IMF would give credit to certain countries for six months. However the quota each country can receive depends how much it already contributes to the IMF, raising questions of how long this latest fix for Europe will last. The euro was gaining 0.25% after the news but borrowing costs in Europe were still high. Spain's 10-year debt was yielding 6.6% and Italy's was yield 6.8%.
"Stocks are trying to rally back on this news," said Marc Pado, strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald.
Also impacting sentiment were the minutes from the Fed's last meeting in early November. The central bank considered further easing of monetary policy, according to the notes, although, as expected, only "a few members" think additional action is needed. Since the release of the report, stocks have moved off their session highs.
Investors are also paying particular attention to technical trends on the S&P 500 index. Lou Brien, a market strategist at DRW Trading, noted that the index's 50% decline to its early October low is a fraction of a point above Monday's low just above 1183.
"For today, it will be of great interest to see if this level trades once again and to see if this holds or if it is broken," he said. "If the latter is the case, it could bring in more selling."
Hurting stocks earlier in trading was a disappointing estimate of U.S. economic growth in the third quarter. The Bureau of Economic Analysis said its second read on third-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at 2%, down from its prior estimate of 2.5% growth. A poll of economists by Reuters expected no change to the original estimate.
However, this latest economic report has been an exception given that the recent string of positive news from areas including jobless claims and even the housing market. "Don't forget that the economic data is still decent," said Pado with Cantor Fitzgerald, who explained that most of the cut in GDP came from a drop in 'inventories.'
Stocks dropped sharply on Monday as U.S. legislators failed to reach a debt reduction deal as planned. However, ratings agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's reaffirmed U.S. creditworthiness late yesterday, dispelling some fears that an imminent downgrade might spark a global selloff similar to the one in early August. Long-term concerns about an increasing debt-to-GDP ratio still remain.
The Dow's biggest decliners on Monday were Hewlett-Packard(:HPQ), Alcoa(:AA) and Bank of America(:BAC). Chevron(:CVX), Kraft Foods(:KFT) and Wal-Mart(:WMT) were leading the gains.
Trading volume was light ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. With less than two hours left before the close, some 2.5 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange and about 1.2 billion on the Nasdaq.
In corporate news, Bank of America shares were falling 2.2% following reports from The Wall Street Journal that the bank may face enforcement action from regulators if it cannot bolster its capital and operations.
Campbell Soup's(:CPB) first-quarter sales fell 1% to $2.16 billion because of lower promotional spending and a drop in volume. Campbell Soup's first-quarter earnings fell to $265 million from $279 million a year ago. The company's per-share earnings of 82 cents a share topped analysts' estimates of 79 cents. Shares were tumbling 6.5%.
Hewlett-Packard, the computer and printer maker, said adjusted earnings per share fell 12% from last year to $1.17 per share. Adjusted net revenue for the quarter ended in October dropped 3% to $32.30 billion. Analysts were expecting profit of $1.13 a share on sales of $32 billion. Shares were off 4%.
Hormel Foods(:HRL) said fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell 3%.The maker of Spam said net income fell to $117.3 million, or 43 cents a share, from $121.1 million, or 45 cents, last year. Analysts were expecting a profit of 42 cents a share. Shares were rising 1%.
Networking equipment company Brocade Communications(:BRCD) blew past Wall Street's expectations in its fiscal fourth quarter, reporting adjusted earnings of $79 million, or 16 cents a share. Revenue was $550 million, up 9% compared to the last quarter but virtually flat from the same quarter last year. Analysts were calling for a profit of 10 cents a share on revenue of $527.4 million. Shares were gaining 10.7%.
Online movie rental company Netflix(:NFLX) says it is raising an additional $200 million through the sale of zero coupon convertible notes. The buyer of the notes, Technology Crossover Ventures, will have the right to nominate one person to Netflix's board. Shares were falling 2%.
The December gold contract was up $24 to $1,702 an ounce. January crude oil futures were up $1.10 to $98.02 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar was trading sideways against a basket of currencies, with the U.S. dollar index down 0.23%. The ten-year Treasury was down 3/32, raising the yield to 1.962%.
Earlier, London's FTSE fell 0.3% Tuesday, and Germany's DAX lost 1.22%. Overnight, Asian stocks closed mixed. Japan's Nikkei Average was down 0.40%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.14%.
--Written by Chao Deng and Andrea Tse in New York.