S&P 500, Nasdaq extend quarterly win streak to seven

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, with equities posting September losses and quarterly gains, as portfolio managers engaged in end-of-quarter positioning.

"There is some window dressing going on," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital.

"it's the last day of the quarter, and professional investors are insuring that their portfolios are in attractive shape," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

"It's a time when players move their chess pieces around. The true finish line is Dec. 31, and investors are paring their portfolios for what they think is coming next," Creatura said.

"Perhaps this is end-of-the-quarter influenced or maybe this ongoing correction is not over yet," offered Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., in afternoon commentary.

EBay climbed after the online-auction site said it would split from PayPal, its payments unit, early in 2015.

"I'm not particularly a proponent of the activist investor, as sometimes they don't see the longer-range effect. But sometimes chocolate and peanut butter really are better together, and in this case, eBay and PayPal don't necessarily need to be together, so I can see the goodness of it," said Forrest.

Tuesday's economic reports all came in below expectations, but ultimately take a back seat to Friday's jobs report, Forrest believes.

"We're waiting for bigger information than we have today. I don't get the sense that the economy is super strong or super weak. It's incrementally getting better," she said.

Equities had declined after the Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell to 86 in September from 93.4 the month before and below an expected 92.5.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices also came in below expectations, rising 6.7 percent from July 2013.

"The investor class that had been buying housing is probably through. That first-time home buyer is what we're looking for now, but we don't see that either," said Forrest at Fort Pitt Capital.

The Chicago PMI for September came in at 60.5, less than the expected 61.9 estimate.

"There is no evidence that any of it mattered; the market appears to be looking past the data," said Creatura.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
DJIA
---
S&P 500
---
NASDAQ
---

Rising as much as 73 points and falling 54, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 28.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,042.90, with McDonald's leading blue-chip losses and Visa fronting gains. The 30-component index was down 0.3 percent for September and ahead 1.3 percent for the quarter.

Off 1.6 percent for the month and up 0.6 percent for the July-to-September period, the S&P 500 declined 5.51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,972.29, with energy and materials the worst performing and telecommunications and technology faring best among its 10 major sectors.

The Nasdaq shed 12.46 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,493.39, leaving it down about 1.9 percent for September and up 1.9 percent for the quarter.

For every three shares rising, roughly five fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 944 million shares traded. Composite volume surpassed 3.9 billion.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The dollar rose against U.S. currency rivals and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose 2 basis points to 2.501 percent.

Dollar-denominated commodities including oil and gold fell, with crude futures for November delivery down $3.41, or 3.6 percent, to $91.16 a barrel and gold for December delivery losing $7.20, or 0.6 percent, to $1,211.60 an ounce.

Stocks fell on Monday as demonstrations in Hong Kong sparked worry.

Coming Up This Week:

Wednesday

Earnings: Accuity Brands

Monthly vehicle sales

8:15 a.m.: ADP employment

10:00 a.m.: ISM manufacturing

10:00 a.m.: Construction spending

Thursday

Earnings: Constellation Brands, McCormick, Actuant, Global Payments

8:30 a.m.: Initial claims

10:00 a.m.: Factory orders

Friday

8:30 a.m.: Employment report

8:30 a.m.: International trade

10:00 a.m.: ISM nonmanufacturing

More From CNBC.com: