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U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, after a near 300-point rally on the Dow evaporated amid falling commodity prices and worries Germany would throw cold water on the European Central Bank taking additional steps to bolster the region's economy.
"We've gone from day-to-day volatility to intraday volatility," Mark Luschini, chief market strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said.
"A progression of events caused this, in the context of a market that is scared anyway, with the VIX trading above 20," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, said of the market's about face.
"Copper prices are falling out of bed, down 5 percent, that tells you something about global growth, that something is not right," Boockvar added.
Reports from overseas that had Germany downplaying the notion of further quantitative easing by the ECB helped push the market lower, Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said.
"There are rumors that Germany is botching quantitative easing, and the market is looking for QE to come out on Jan. 22. It's a non-trivial worry, when you're talking about a eurozone that in the aggregate is almost the size of the U.S. economy," Luschini said.
"And, there's continuation of pressure from crude prices; investors are still trying to ascertain if lower energy prices are good or bad for stocks," Hogan said.
KB Home led declines among homebuilders after it projected a "significant" drop in gross margins in the current quarter; Apple shares surged after Credit Suisse upgraded the supplier of consumer technology to outperform from neutral.
With the fourth-quarter earnings season started, investors are on the lookout for the the effect of crude's decline on the S&P 500's collective bottom line, with oil prices on Tuesday falling to near six-year lows as a major OPEC producer stuck to the cartel's decision not to reduce output.
"Major parts of the global economy are likely to be economic black holes this year, and likely to put downward pressure on optimistic earnings estimates for the first half if not all of 2015," Jim Russell, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor, said.
"Aluminum production is an energy hog, so the cheaper oil prices definitely helped Alcoa," said Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist at Everbank.
Still, Alcoa's initial gains evaporated, with the aluminum producer turning lower after reporting better-than-expected results late Monday.
Scaling back from a 282-point jump, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 142 points, before ending at 17,613.68, off 27.16 points, or 0.2 percent.
The shed 5.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,023.03, with materials and energy hardest hit and utilities and telecommunications faring best among its 10 major sectors.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, rose 4.9 percent to 20.56.
The Nasdaq declined 3.21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,661.50.
For every seven shares rising, about eight fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 876 million shares traded. Composite volume cleared 4.1 billion.
The U.S. dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasurynote used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell a basis point to 1.9010 percent.
On Monday, U.S. stocks declined, extending a two-week slide, as worries about the falling price of oil took hold before the start of quarterly earnings.
Coming Up This Week:
8:30 a.m. Eastern: Retail sales for December
8:30 a.m.: Import prices
10 a.m.: Business inventories for November
2 p.m.: Beige Book
Earnings after the bell: Intel
8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims, weekly
8:30 a.m.: Empire State survey for January
10 a.m.: Philadelphia Fed survey
Earnings before the bell: Goldman Sachs Group
8:30 a.m.: CPI for December
9:15 a.m.: Capacity utilization for December
10 a.m.: Consumer sentiment, preliminary for January
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