A wealth of economic data was accompanied by the ongoing stream of earnings reports on Tuesday, as stocks rallied late to end the day slightly higher as investors trembled ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee’s monthly two-day meeting on Wednesday.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed up 0.04 percent to 1,685.96 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.01 percent at the very last minute to finish at 15,520.89 points, and the NASDAQ ended the day up 0.48 percent higher at 3,616.47.
Home prices posted their largest increase since May of 2006 as the Case-Schiller home prices index indicated a 12.17 percent year-over-year. The result was just short of the 12.4 percent increase that had been forecast, and while many have taken three straight months of price appreciation of over ten percent as yet another sign of a recovering housing market, the enthusiasm is by no means unanimous.
Svenja Gudell, an economist with the online real-estate site Zillow (Z) told Business Insider that such growth is not sustainable, and cautioned that the increase in re-sale of foreclosed homes was distorting prices artificially upward.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index dropped to 80.3 during the month of July, one basis-point lower than economists’ expectations, though the June figure was revised upward to 82.1. The index provides a broader perspective on consumer spending as it gives a gauge of how consumers feel about the business and employment environment in the short-to-mid-term.
Still, the Federal Reserve more or less dominated headlines, as the New York Times’ editorial board released an uncharacteristically vehement op-ed piece on Tuesday giving a strong endorsement to Janet Yellen for head of the central bank. The piece is ostensibly a reaction to recent speculation that Larry Summers might instead be chosen for the position. The nation’s paper of record unequivocally excoriated Summers for his influence over fiscal policy decisions and flouting of regulatory bodies that dates back to the Clinton administration.
The S&P 500 was heavily weighed down by basic materials stocks, with agricultural chemicals manufacturer The Mosaic Company (MOS) and United States Steel Corp. (X) taking particularly heavy losses. Meanwhile, it was a photo-finish for the Dow as it struggled under the weight of the US’s two largest telecoms, Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and AT&T Inc. (T) . On the upside, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (PFE) reported solid earnings that helped it end the day higher.
The NASDAQ was lifted higher by tech shares, with Facebook Inc. (FB) , Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) , and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) all ending the day on gains.