Market Wrap: Stocks End 5th Day Lower; Oil Prices Slip More

Markets Open Day After Steep Loses
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ended lower for a fifth session Tuesday as data showed slower growth in the U.S. service sector and oil prices fell further.

The S&P 500's losing streak was its longest in about 13 months, but the index ended off the day's lows, having fallen as much as 1.4 percent earlier, at one point breaking below the 2,000 level for the first time since Dec. 17.

Data released Tuesday pointed to slowing growth in the fourth quarter. The pace of expansion in services moderated in December and new orders for manufactured goods fell for a fourth consecutive month in November.

The S&P 500 is down 4.2 percent for the last five sessions, with the Dow and S&P 500 suffering on Monday their biggest drops since early October.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-It seems to be about oil prices. The big debate out there is what does it mean and is there this massive global economic slowdown.%Among the day's biggest drags, the S&P energy sector fell 1.3 percent as oil prices slid further on mounting worries about a supply glut. U.S. crude settled at $47.93 a barrel, down 4.2 percent on the day. Shares of energy names tumbled, including Southwestern Energy (SWN), down 5 percent at $24.71, as brokerages continued to cut price targets.

"It seems to be about oil prices. The big debate out there is what does it mean and is there this massive global economic slowdown," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management in Chicago.

"But besides that, economic news has been modestly disappointing," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 130.01 points, or 0.74 percent, to 17,371.64, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 17.97 points, or 0.89 percent, to 2,002.61 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 59.84 points, or 1.29 percent, to 4,592.74.

An election in Greece, which may trigger its exit from the eurozone, is about three weeks away, increasing the difficulty for the European Central Bank to move towards quantitative easing as it attempts to stabilize the region's economy.

Among gainers, shares of AOL (AOL) rose 3.4 percent to $46.25 a day after a report that Verizon Communications (VZ) approached AOL about a potential acquisition or joint venture. (Editor's note: AOL is the publisher of this website.)

About 8.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 5.5 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,076 to 1,011, for a 2.05-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,117 issues fell and 657 advanced for a 3.22-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 15 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 38 new highs and 73 new lows.

What to watch Wednesday:
  • The Mortgage Bankers Association reports weekly mortgage applications at 7 a.m. Eastern time.
  • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and Moody's Analytics release the ADP National Employment Report for December at 8:15 a.m.
  • The Commerce Department releases international trade data for November at 10 a.m.
  • The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its December interest rate meeting at 2 p.m.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
The 7 Best Things to Buy in January
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Market Wrap: Stocks End 5th Day Lower; Oil Prices Slip More

At the end of December, gyms are mostly empty. The beginning of January turns gyms into madhouses. While it may seem smart for gyms to hike prices in the new year, they do the opposite to persuade you to join their facility versus their competitors'. In fact, says that membership fees waived by gyms in January can save you over $100.

On that same note, January is an excellent month to purchase those yoga mats, ellipticals, DVDs, treadmills, dumbbells, workout apparel and anything else that will help kick you into shape. These fitness necessities are often marked up to 70 percent off the retail price both online and in stores. Also, check out deal websites such as Groupon and Living Social for an uptick in fitness-related steals throughout January, and head to resale shops for gently used fitness equipment, especially toward the end of the month when people donate their old stuff to make room for new goods.

January is arguably the best month to buy winter clothing. For starters, retailers gear up to showcase spring apparel and, to help move product, they drop prices on those cable-knit sweaters, denim goods, scarves, boots, coats and more. Secondly, January is an excellent month to buy winter apparel because you still get plenty of wear out of whatever you buy. Note that the further into January we go, the deeper the discounts.

OK, so you don't actually buy credit cards, but you can certainly apply for a new one. In the spirit of new year's resolutions, which often include battling debt, we suggest taking advantage of the many credit card promotions this month. For example, numerous credit cards offer 0 percent annual percentage rate on balance transfers this time of year, providing you with six months to a year of interest-free debt repayment. If you have a high-interest credit card, consider transferring the balance and paying it down aggressively. Other credit card promotions include an increase in cash back and bonus miles.

Yep, it's tax season. While the thought is sure to induce a few groans, know that there are at least a few deals to be had along the way. In January through late March, you can find tax filing software for up to 50 percent off the retail price. In-person tax filing services also hold promotions, so look out for specials. We suggest signing up for emails or joining social media pages to stay in the loop on all the above.

If you have any plans to make over your home in the near future, now's the perfect time to pounce. Big retailers -- including Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), Crate & Barrel, Sears (SHLD) and JCPenney (JCP) -- heavily discount their furniture and home goods collections in January, says The website says you can "expect to see furniture clearance sales that take between 40 percent to 75 percent off regular prices."

Philadelphia department store owner John Wannamaker started the white sale tradition in 1878 (adapted from those fashionable French). He recognized that sales dried up after the holidays and that people just didn't get out of the house and buy much during the dreary, cold months. So he ran white sales, named after the pristine snow and the products discounted. These white sales still take place to this day. Expect to find sheets, towels, curtains, napkins, and more for between 30 percent and 60 percent off the retail price.

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