Stocks pared earlier gains and were mixed at midday as investors eyed economic data.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price indexes showed little monthly change in January. The 10-city index remained the same compared with December, while the 20-city index fell 0.1%, though when seasonally adjusted, each index increased 0.8%. The year-over-year readings were much better, albeit slightly lower than economists' expectations, with the 10-city index rising 13.5% compared with the same time last year, and the 20-city index increasing 13.2%.
Meanwhile, new-home sales fell 3.3% last month compared with January's tally. The reading missed the annual-rate expectations, and it was the lowest level in five months. January's sales numbers were revised downward, as well, with harsh winter weather and higher mortgage rates negatively affecting new transactions.
Separately, the consumer confidence index came in at 82.3 for March, about four points higher than economists' expectations, which called for little change compared with February. The March index was the best in more than six years, with consumers showing more optimism for the economy and job growth.
The Dow was up 0.2% at midday, but the Nasdaq had lost 0.4%. The S&P 500 was flat.
Stocks on the Move
Walgreen (WAG) reported a decline in second-quarter profit, which was $754 million versus $756 million from the same time last year. Adjusted earnings per share fell short of Wall Street expectations. Same-store sales increased, but customer traffic declined. Walgreen said it plans to close at least 76 stores during the second half of the year, but it also expects to increase the overall number of stores. Shares were up 3.1% at midday.
Carnival (CCL)(CUK) posted a first-quarter loss of $15 million compared with a profit of $37 million from last year. Adjusted results were flat, but derivatives had a negative impact on the bottom line. Revenue slipped by 0.2%. The firm narrowed its full-year earnings estimates, but its current-quarter outlook is lower than Street forecasts. CCL shares were down 5.4% at midday, and CUK shares had lost 4.7%.
Asian stocks were mostly lower. The Shanghai Composite was flat, but the Nikkei 225 and the Hang Seng lost 0.4% and 0.5%.
Stocks in Europe were higher, with the Paris CAC and the DAX each gaining 1.4% and the FTSE 100 rising 1.1%.