Stocks closed mixed Tuesday, with the Nasdaq ending lower and the S&P failing to end above a key technical level despite earlier optimism over a meeting of EU finance ministers and a better-than-expected consumer confidence report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 32.62 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 11555.63, led by Coca-Cola and Home Depot . BofA was the biggest laggard on the blue-chip index.
The S&P 500 squeezed out a gain of 2.65 points, or 0.22 percent, to finish at 1,195.20—below the key technical level of 1,200. The Nasdaq slipped 11.83 points, or 0.47 percent, to end at 2,515.51.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed below 31.
Among key S&P sectors, energy climbed, while techs lagged.
After the close, S&P cut its credit ratings on 37 large banks around the world including U.S. financial giants BofA , Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo . All large banks were trading lower in after-hours trading.
- Track Major Bank Stocks Here
Late Monday, Fitch revised its outlook on the U.S. credit rating to negative, citing the failure of a special congressional committee to reach an deficit-reduction agreement. Fitch gave the United States until 2013 to come up with a plan to tackle its ballooning budget deficit.
In Europe, euro zone ministers approved the next installment of Greece's bailout loan of $10.7 billion in an effort to prevent the debt chaos from spreading to other nations.
Meanwhile Italy paid more than 7 percent to sell three and 10-year paper in an auction that saw decent demand for the shorter-maturity debt.
And a French newspaper reported Standard & Poor’s could cut its France’s AAA rating outlook within days, while Moody’s said it could downgrade the subordinated debt of 87 banks across 15 countries on fears that governments will not be able to bail them out.