Stocks lower with Dow off 100 points; data, Fed speakers eyed

Adam Jeffery | CNBC A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. stocks opened lower on Tuesday, following the prior day’s major gains, as investors eyed economic data and the end of the first quarter.

“I think everyone’s nervous about what’s coming this quarter. To me the path of least resistance seems down,” said Maris Ogg, president of Tower Bridge Advisors. “Next month pretty (neutral) until people get an idea where the new estimates for the year are.”

The U.S. dollar is up 9 percent for the year and is expected to continue weighing on earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 100 points soon after the open as all the major indices fell about half a percent.

U.S. stocks surged more than 1 percent on Monday, with the Dow closing more than 260 points higher.

The recent economic data has been good, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. The question is, “do we have enough good news to push us higher?”

The latest consumer confidence reading will be released by the Conference Board at 10.00 a.m. ET and is expected to show a modest up-tick in sentiment in March.

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While the indicator seems bound to remain below January’s post-crisis high, it should be consistent with a decent spending mood among U.S. consumers. The Chicago PMI for March will also be released at 09:45 a.m. ET.

Case-Shiller house price indices for January showed an increase from last year.

Following dovish comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday, hawkish policymakers give remarks on Tuesday.

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“The biggest part of the change in the narrative is the combination (of Fed speakers that shows) the steepest of the Fed funds rates seems to be declining,” Hogan said. “The Fed speak today will be a counterbalance from Fischer, Yellen and Bernanke.”

Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke published his first-ever blog post through Brookings Institution on Monday that was dovish .

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said on Tuesday that there is a strong case for an increase in the fed funds rate relatively soon.

In the afternoon, Kansas City Fed President Esther George will speak on economy.

Oil futures extended losses Tuesday, as Iran and six world powers negotiated over a deal that could ease sanctions and allow more Iranian crude onto world markets.

Brent oil was about $1 lower under $55 a barrel, while U.S. crude was down over 90 cents at $47.75 a barrel just before the market open in the United States.

DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 17866.44
-109.87 -0.61%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2075.62
-10.62 -0.51%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4924.27
-23.17 -0.47%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened down 74 points, or 0.41 percent, at 17,901, with Chevron the greatest laggard and Intel leading four blue chips higher.

The S&P 500 opened down 8.69 points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,077.50, with energy leading nine sectors lower and telecommunications the only sector gaining.

The Nasdaq opened down 19 points, or 0.39 percent, at 4,927.66.

For every four decliners one share advanced on the New Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 47 million and a composite volume of 100 million in the open.

The U.S. dollar gained about half a percent against major world currencies, with the euro at $1.07. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield edged higher to 1.96 percent.

Crude oil futures fell 88 cents to $47.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures gained $2.10, or about 0.20 percent, to $1,186.90 an ounce in the open.

European equities hit session lows Tuesday, as investors reacted to fresh economic data from the euro zone and booked some profits after a stellar rally in the previous session.

Comcast—The NBCUniversal parent is establishing a new company that will focus on investing and operating growth-oriented companies, to be led by current Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis. Comcast will immediately begin a search for a new CFO. (DISCLOSURE: NBCUniversal is the parent of CNBC.)

IBM will invest $3 billion in a unit centered around the “internet of things.” The unit’s first partnership is with Weather Channel parent Weather Co., which will move its data services into the IBM “cloud.”

Starbucks debuts a new line of smoothies at some of its U.S. shops, as part of a partnership with France’s Danone, maker of the Dannon yogurt brand.

Herbalife—Investor Bill Ackman said shutting down the nutritional supplements maker is “one of the most importing things” he can do. Ackman made his comments at a meeting of the Council of Institution Investors, speaking about his massive short bet against Herbalife that began in December 2012 and his claims that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.

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CNBC’s Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.

On tap this week:


End of quarter

9:45 am: Chicago purchasing managers

10:00 am: Consumer confidence

3:00 pm: Kansas City Fed President Esther George on economy


Vehicle sales

Earnings: Monsanto, Acuity Brands

8:15 am: ADP employment

9:45 am: Manufacturing PMI

10:00 am: ISM manufacturing

10:00 am: Construction spending


Earnings: CarMax, Micron

8:30 am: Initial claims

8:30 am: International trade

10:00 am: Factory orders


Good Friday holiday

Stock and bond markets closed

Futures markets open holiday schedule

8:30 am: Employment

8:30 am: Minneapolis Fed President Narayana welcoming remarks, community development conference

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