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Stocks Pull Back as Consumer Mood Sours

Stocks retreated Tuesday, after a higher open, as a drop in consumer confidence dragged on the market.

The Conference Board's consumer-confidence index dropped to 53.1 in September from 54.5 in August. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the gauge to rise to 57.

Meanwhile, investors shrugged off a better-than-expected housing report: Home prices continued to rebound, up for a third straight month in July, after a three-year slide.

Wall Street is coming off one of its best gains in weeks. There are some key data points that will help shape the direction this week, including GDP, auto sales, ISM manufacturing and the September jobs report.

Monday's gains for the Dow and S&P 500 were the best one-day advances since August 21, and the Nasdaq had its best one-session gain since July 23.

Banks opened higher, with Citigroup up more than 3 percent. Bank of America was among the top gainers on the Dow, along with Boeing and General Electric.

Shares of Walgreen moved higher after the drug-store chain beat earnings expectations, helped by store makeovers and job cuts.

Computer maker Dell said it's expanding its efforts in Chinaas it plays catch-up with Lenovo and HP in one of the world's fastest-growing PC markets.

Starbucks announced plans to roll out a line of instant coffee.

Genetic-analysis test maker Sequenom was reeling after saying it fired its CEO and a swath of its top management team following a scandal over mishandling of research data.

The board fired president and CEO Harry Stylli and others over the affair, which centered on the company's prenatal Down symdrome test. Shares tumbled 44 percent in premarket trading.

CIT Group shares also will be in focus following a report that hedge fund manager John Paulson is considering merging the troubled finance company with failed mortgage lender IndyMac Federal Bank.

The New York Post said the merger is among plans being considered by Paulson and other CIT creditors. CIT shares jumped 26 percent premarket on the news.

European markets fell slightly, similarly stepping back after forging a strong rally Monday.

Two Fed speeches are also on the calendar today: Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher gives a speech on the economy at about 10 am New York time in Dallas, while Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser does the same at a 7 pm appearance in Easton, PA.

With the third quarter ending on Wednesday, earnings season is just around the corner. There are a few reports trickling out after the bell today, including Nike and Micron .

The quarter, by the way, has some notable stock stats attached to it with two sessions to go: the Dow is on track for a record quarterly point gain, and the best percentage gain since the fourth quarter of 1998. The S&P 500 is also on track for its best percentage gain since Q4 1998.

Peter Schacknow contributed to this report

This Week:

TUESDAY: Consumer confidence; Fed's Plosser speaks
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; ADP jobs report; GDP; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Lockhart speaks
THURSDAY: Personal income/spending; jobless claims; ISM manufacturing index; pending-home sales; construction spending; auto sales; Fed's Bernanke, Pianalto, Lockhart speak
FRIDAY: Sept jobs report; factory orders; Calif. IOUs mature

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.