Stocks ended slightly lower, snapping a two-day winning streak as investors paused amid little apparent progress on a new federal budget and a fresh batch of economic data seen likely pushing the Federal Reserve to soon reduce its stimulus measures. Most industry sectors in the S&P 500 finished lower, although - as with the broader markets - the declines were limited, helped by late bargain shopping. Shares of material and mining stocks ended higher, however, boosted by rising commodity prices spurred by expectations of an improving economy.
Wholesale inventories rose 1.4% during October, the Commerce Department reported today, beating expectations as businesses show few signs of slowing down after aggressively building supplies during Q3.
That surprised experts in Thomson Reuters poll who were looking for a 0.3% rise in October. The agency also revised September figures by 0.1% higher to a 0.5% rise.
The Labor Department also reported an increase in job openings to 3.925 million in October, a gain of 0.3% from the prior month and beating market expectations for a rise to around 3.905 million job openings.
Both reports supported commodity gains, especially for crude oil, with the January contract rising to a six-week high to settle at $98.51 per barrel, up $1.17. January natural was little changed at $4.24 per 1 million BTU. Metal prices also rose, with February gold adding $31.90 to settle at $1261 per ounce while March silver rose 80 cents to $20.33 per ounce. March copper rose 2 cents to $3.27 per pound.
Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 52 (-0.3%) at 15,973.13
S&P 500 down 5.75 (-0.3%) at 1,802.62
Nasdaq Composite Index down down 8.26 (-0.2%) at 4,060.49
Hang Seng Index down 0.28%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.03%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.55%
(+) LSG, Updated its 2014 production guidance to 160,000 to 180,000 ounces from 140,000 to 160,000 ounces initially.
(+) MEIL, Extended gains to a second session after yesterday announcing a deal to purchase privately held OTC Energy Technologies Inc. for an undisclosed sum.
(+) NAVB, Gets FDA fast track designation for its head, neck cancer diagnostics tool.
(-) BURL, Reports a wider fiscal Q3 net loss and forecasts weaker same-store sales growth for the current quarter.
(-) PED, Prices offering of 3.25 million shares at $2.25 apiece.
(-) GNK, Wall Street Journal reports the dry-bulk shipper and rival Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc ( EGLE ) have hired outside consultants to help them pare debt loads.
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