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.