Orders for items meant to last more than three years were down nearly 6 percent in March, nearly doubling the drop that had been expected by economists. Aside from computers and electronics, up about 1 percent on the month, declines were registered in every other category of durable good.
The report comes ahead of Friday’s GDP reading that is expected to show 3 percent growth in the domestic economy in the first quarter of 2013.
After a fairly huge Tuesday, Wall Street cooled off a little, on the durable goods news, but more so as a result of somewhat disappointing news from both Apple (AAPL) and AT&T (T).
Apple’s earnings report, released during late trading on Tuesday, confirmed investor and analyst fears alike regarding the company’s slowing growth, to the extent that news of a $100 billion cash distribution plan seemed to elicit almost no excitement. Apple closed the day on a slight gain of 0.3 percent, to $407.31.
AT&T, meanwhile, broke even on earnings, but missed on revenue, with the help of a 3.4 percent decrease in Business services sales. The nation’s second largest provider of wireless services dropped over 5 percent on the day to close at $37.01.
The S&P 500 broke even at 1,578.79, with a number of tech stocks performing considerably well. First Solar (FSLR) was up 11.53 percent to close at $44.99, Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) up 7.19 percent to $35.35, Corning Inc. (GLW), the maker of Gorilla Glass, up 6.02 percent to $13.92, and NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) up 3.87 percent to $13.42.
The index was weighted, however, by high-volume drops not only from AT&T, but also Juniper Networks, down 9.74 percent to $15.67, and Proctor & Gamble (PG) down 6.15 percent to $77.46.
The Dow closed on the day’s biggest percentage loss, dropping 0.29 percent to 14,676.30, propped up by gains from Microsoft (MSFT) who closed on a 4.16 percent gain to $31.78, Bank of America (BAC) up 1.99 percent to $12.31 on high volume, and General Electric (GE) up 2.37 percent to $22.01.
Aside from Proctor & Gamble and AT&T, the Dow was held back by Cisco Systems (CSCO) down 2.39 percent to close at $20.41, and Pfizer (PFE), down 1.34 percent to $30.66.
The Nasdaq posted a valiant 0.01 percent gain to close at 3,269.65, with solar stocks getting caught in the upward draft of Solar City. Real Goods Solar (RSOL) was up 18 percent to $1.90, and SunPower Corp (SPWR) was up 10.36 percent to $12.25, while DayStar Technologies (DSTI) was up 10.71 percent to $0.31.
Zynga (ZNGA) was up 5.31 percent to $3.35, while Blackberry (BBRY) jumped nearly 4 percent to close at $14.90.