Stocks were unable to find any momentum yesterday.
The market drifted between gains and losses throughout the day, then headed steadily lower in the last hour of trading. Investors found some solace in strong results from Home Depot and Macy's. The enthusiasm was not enough, however, to offset an unexpectedly steep decline in consumer confidence this month, due largely to bitter cold weather and winter storms.
"The weather is having an impact on everything, from homes, vehicles to retail sales, but fortunately we expect that pent-up demand to return later this year," said Joseph Tanious, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.
The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence fell to 78.1 in February from 80.7 the month before. That was below the 80.1 level economists polled by FactSet were expecting. The report is a closely watched indicator of how likely consumers are to spend money and keep the economy moving forward.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27.48 points to 16,179.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.13 percent to 1,845.12, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.13 percent to 4,287.59. -- AP