Stocks fell Tuesday amid growing doubts about the economic recovery. There were some pockets of gains in the tech, banking and pharmaceutical sectors.
Validating investor fears about the economy, an Obama economic adviser suggested that a second round of stimulus may be needed.
"Talk of a new stimulus plan is actually a confidence killer," Joseph Battipaglia, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, told Reuters. "That would mean we've added a trillion dollars to debt without anything to show for it."
Adding to investor concerns, a report showed consumer credit-card debt hit an all-time highin the first quarter.
President Obama clarified remarks made by VP Joe Biden over the weekend that the administration "misread" the economic situation.
"[R]ather than say misread, we had incomplete information," Obama said. Coming into office in January, the administration didn't have the first-quarter numbers, the president explained. Those numbers showed that the economic erosion "was happening much more rapidly at an accelerated pace than the projections out there at the time," he said.
Investors are now focused on earnings season, which kicks off after the bell Wednesday, with results from Alcoa , the first Dow component to report. Analysts expect a third straight lossfrom the aluminum giant.
Alcoa, Bank of America and Intel were the top three gainers on the Dow in early trading.
Concerns about the economy have sent oil prices spiraling.
Oil stocks skidded as oil dropped below $64 a barrel and Barclays cut its price targets on Chevron and ConocoPhilips .
However, Barclays raised its targets on ExxonMobil and Murphy Oil .
General Electric shares slipped following a Wall Street Journal report that the company, also the parent of CNBC, is pumping more money into its appliance unit after being unable to sell it in the current economic climate.
In tech land, Microsoft warned of a serious computer-security hole for computers using Internet Explorer and Windows XP.
And Dell launched a package of hardware and software designed to help police more efficiently compile digital evidence in criminal investigations.
U.S. auto parts maker Lear officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, a day after laying out plans to restructure its $3.6 billion debt burden under a proposed deal with creditors, according to Reuters.
The most notable event for the day may be the auction of 3-year Treasury notes, with the results expected shortly after 1 pm New York time.
TUESDAY: No major market-moving events expected
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; weekly crude inventories; consumer credit; Earnings from Family Dollar, Alcoa
THURSDAY: Chain-store sales; weekly jobless claims; wholesale trade; Fed's Duke speaks; Earnings from 3Com
FRIDAY: Import/export prices; international trade; consumer sentiment
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