Stocks Flat in Early Trading; Oil Creeps to $96
NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks hovered near the break-even mark Tuesday after an encouraging report on home sales in the United States and an unexpected drop in consumer confidence this month.
An hour into trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up six points to 13,130. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up a point at 1,412, and the Nasdaq composite index was up six to 3,079.
The Conference Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to its lowest point since November 2011. Economists had expected a much higher reading. The index was 60.6, down from 65.4 in July.
Crude oil crept above $96 a barrel as Tropical Storm Isaac moved through the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center predicted Isaac would grow to hurricane status. Roughly one-quarter of the country's oil is produced in the Gulf.
The price of a house increased in all major U.S. cities in June, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index. The report was the latest sign that the housing market has been gaining strength.
Worries over Europe resurfaced after one of Spain's largest regions, Catalonia, said it will ask the central government for $6.3 billion in rescue aid. Catalonia would be the third Spanish region to ask for help.
Borrowing costs for Spain and Italy jumped, and major stock indexes in Europe were mostly lower. Germany's DAX dropped 0.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.8 percent.
Back in the U.S., Lexmark International jumped 13 percent, the biggest gain in the S&P. Lexmark said that it will stop making ink-jet printers and plans to lay off 1,700 employees, nearly 13 percent of its work force. The company expects to shutter its ink-jet supply plant in the Phillipines by the end of 2015. Lexmark's stock jumped $2.53 to $21.54.