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US stocks finish mixed; S&P 500 clings to 2,000

U.S. stocks mostly fell on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 holding above 2,000 after rising to another intraday record, as energy companies dropped along with the price of oil and investors fretted whether the European Central Bank would make further monetary policy moves this week.

"This sharp decline in commodity prices is certainly driving down materials and metals names," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.

ECB President Mario Draghi's "talk at Jackson Hole lit a fire, but people are waking up to the fact that he's likely going to stick to further details of what he announced June 5," added Boockvar.

"This may be the week they roll out some sort of asset purchases; there is a lot of conversation around Mario Draghi doing some sort of quantitative easing in light of the softer-than-expected European data," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Investors largely looked beyond data showing a gauge of manufacturing at its loftiest level in three years.

"It's great news but not new news," said Hogan of the Institute for Supply Management's index of factory activity, which last month rose to 59, the highest since March 2011, from July's 57.1.

Read MoreU.S. manufacturing soars to three-year high

"The ISM is a great reading and is a confirmation of what the market has done," said Hogan, referring to Wall Street's advance, which has the S&P 500 hitting record highs and up more than eight percent this year.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported construction spending rose 1.8 percent in July.

Financial-data firm Markit reported its final measure of U.S. manufacturing in August came in at 57.9, down from an initial read of 58.

Home Depot declined after the home-improvement retailer confirmed it could be the latest retailer to have been hit by a massive credit-card breach. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings rose after agreeing to purchase Prestige Cruises International for about $3.03 billion including debt. Shares of Conn's fell sharply after the furniture and appliance retailer cut its full-year outlook. Compuware shares rose after the computer software company agreed to be purchased by private-equity firm Thoma Bravo for $2.5 billion. Dollar General hiked its offer for Family Dollar Stores and said it might take its case directly to shareholders if its latest offer was rebuffed.

"We return to our respective offices this week with an S&P 500 dancing around all-time highs, following an earnings season in which EPS (earnings per share) grew by roughly double-digits and revenues grew by 4.5 percent," emailed Dan Greenhaus, chief market strategst at BTIG.

"While some clients remain focused on the Fed and the tapering process, we have long pointed to EPS growth as justification for higher stock prices. This past earnings season was no different," Greenhaus noted.

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Chevron and Exxon Mobil were among blue-chip decliners, which included 21 of 30 components. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as much as 15 points and fell as much as 89. It closed with a loss of 30.89 points, or 0.2 percent, at 17,067.56.

The S&P 500 hit an intraday record of 2006.12, and ended off 1.09 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,002.28, with energy hardest hit and financials faring best of its 10 major industry groups.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, rose 2.25 percent to 12.25.

The Nasdaq added 17.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,598.19.

Decliners were a step ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where 593 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 2.8 billion.

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The yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to determine mortgage rates and other consumer loans jumped 8 basis points to 2.421 percent, and the dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners.

Dollar-denominated commodities including gold and oil fell, with gold for December delivery down $22.40, or 1.7 percent, to $1,265.00 an ounce, while crude for October delivery fell $3.08 to $92.88 a barrel.

On Friday, stocks rose, lifting the S&P 500 to another record finish, as investors welcomed a better-than-expected read on U.S. consumer confidence and bypassed geopolitical worries.

Read MoreBest August in 14 years for S&P 500

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Wednesday:

10 a.m. Eastern: Factory orders for July

2 p.m. : Beige Book

TBA: Motor Vehicles sales for August

Thursday:

8:15 a.m. Eastern: ADP employment for August

8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims

8:30 a.m.: Trade deficit for July

8:30 a.m.: Productivity for the second quarter

10 a.m.: ISM non-manufacturing for August

Friday:

8:30 a.m. Eastern: Nonfarm payrolls for August

8:30 a.m.: Unemployment rate for August

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