Market Wrap: Stocks Down for 2nd Straight Day; Energy Weak

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell for a second straight session Tuesday, with equities maintaining a tight range that corresponded with currency fluctuations as traders focused on the dollar's strength and its possible effect on corporate earnings.

Data from home sales to inflation and manufacturing indicated the U.S. economy remains strong, but failed to alter expectations of a faster or steeper monetary policy tightening path at the Federal Reserve.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-I don't think there is a tremendous amount of trepidation about earnings season. We will clearly see the impact of lower energy prices as well as the stronger dollar.%Traders have honed in on how the Fed will react to economic data, as a June interest rate increase remains a possibility. Stocks have been inversely correlated to the U.S. dollar and several multinational companies have given earnings forecasts that cited a negative impact from a strong greenback.

"I don't think there is a tremendous amount of trepidation about earnings season. We will clearly see the impact of lower energy prices as well as the stronger dollar," said David Lefkowitz, Senior Equity Strategist at UBS in New York.

"Those two factors are fairly well-known, so I don't expect it is going to be much in the way of a surprise for most companies when they do report earnings, but clearly those temporary factors are going to weigh on the growth for the first quarter."

The S&P energy index lost 0.8 percent as Brent crude settled down 1.5 percent at $55.11 a barrel after the dollar gained ground against the euro. The dollar index zigzagged between gains and losses against a basket of major currencies and was up 0.14 percent on the day.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 104.9 points, or 0.58 percent, to 18,011.14, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 12.92 points, or 0.61 percent, to 2,091.5 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 16.25 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,994.73.

Declines on the Nasdaq were tempered by a boost from Google (GOOGL), up 2.2 percent to $577.54. Morgan Stanley's (MS) chief financial officer is leaving the bank to join Google.

Biotechs were down for a second straight session, pulled lower by a 2.4 percent drop in Biogen (BIIB) to $452.71. The Nasdaq biotech index is down 2.9 percent in the past two sessions after snapping an eight-day winning streak.

Whiting Petroleum (WLL) plunged 19.5 percent to $30.91. North Dakota's largest oil producer announced an offering of 35 million shares and a $1.75 billion mix of notes and convertible notes to help cut its near-$6 billion debt load.

Volume was light, with about 5.29 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.8 billion average so far this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,708 to 1,317, for a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,415 issues fell and 1,284 advanced, for a 1.10-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq composite recorded 104 new highs and 22 new lows.

What to watch Wednesday:
  • The Commerce Department releases durable goods for February at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
The 6 Best Things to Buy in March
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Market Wrap: Stocks Down for 2nd Straight Day; Energy Weak
The travel industry sees a decline in travel throughout late winter, including March. That's often because people don't have a reason, or the time, to get away. If you can, though, take advantage of the low prices, which are found across the board. Cash in those airline miles, pick up that new luggage you've been meaning to buy and plan for a weekend getaway that'll give you some reprieve from the humdrum of your current life. Prices are lower on car rentals, airfare, lodging, travel essentials and more.
Now that the lovey-doviest day of the year has passed -- and there's no major jewelry-buying holiday in sight until Mother's Day -- retailers are eager to move their bling. Keep an eye out for in-store and online specials at your favorite retailers during all of March and even into April. Also, don't be afraid to put your haggling hat on and negotiate lower prices, even if there isn't a sale going on. Because of the pressure to sell during this slow time, you'll have an easier time negotiating with desperate sales reps.
March is National Reading Month, so expect an uptick in sales and specials throughout the month as retailers celebrate. Also be sure to shop clearance sections at your local bookstore and cash in on those coupons and online discount codes. For even cheaper books, try try thrift stores and websites such as
There's a noticeable shift in scents at the change of every season. For example, winter calls for richer, heavier personal fragrances, and candles and other home fragrances are typically very wintry (cranberries, birch trees, etc.) during the cold months. Perfumers and home fragrance retailers are putting out new scents right now, which means last season's goods are hitting the clearance bin. Stock up for now and later.
As we get closer to warmer weather, people pull up their sleeves and prepare for spring cleaning and organizing. So this is the time for new products (even if it's just a slight change in formulation or scent),and introductory rates to get you to try them. Keep your eyes peeled and your home fresh.
March is also National Frozen Food Month, so expect coupons and specials from frozen-food firms. To keep track of specials and to find coupons, follow these companies on social media, get e-mail blasts from them and pick up your Sunday paper. Score better deals when you stack a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon or special.
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