Stocks slightly down on retail earnings, strong economic data

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Potomac Wealth Advisors President Mark Avallone on the impact of U.S. trade talks with China on the markets and retail sector earnings.

Stocks closed slightly lower Tuesday, as investors examined strong economic data and digested retail company earnings.

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Shares spent much of the session trading in a tight range before the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite ended fractionally lower.

The U.S. services sector expanded in February, showing the economy remains on the upswing.

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The Institute for Supply Management's nonmanufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 59.7 in February from 56.7 in January.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday new home sales increased 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000 units, the highest level since May 2018. November's sales pace was revised down to 599,000 units from the previously reported 657,000 units.

Traders are also keeping an eye out for any progress toward the completion of a trade deal between the U.S. and China.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27335.63-23.53-0.09%
SP500S&P 5003004.04-10.26-0.34%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8222.79684-35.39-0.43%

Shares of General Electric tumbled after CEO Larry Culp, speaking at a JPMorgan investor conference, said that he saw the corporation's industrial free cash flow in negative territory this year.

British insurance broker AON's stock sank after a Bloomberg report that it was considering an all-stock offer for rival Willis Towers Watson.

It will be a busy week for retail earnings.

Target said Tuesday it booked its best fourth-quarter comparable store sales in a decade, as it beat Wall Street expectations on both profit and sales thanks to strong online sales. The company earned $1.53 per share on sales of $22.98 billion. Target's full-year 2018 results were also strong, as the company earned $5.39 per share and comparable digital sales surged 36 percent.

Kohl's shares jumped after saying its annual earnings outlook will top expectations.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
GEGENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY10.38+0.11+1.07%
AONAON197.08-0.45-0.23%
TGTTARGET CORP.88.31+1.51+1.74%
KSSKOHL'S CORP.49.84+0.58+1.18%
PZZAPAPA JOHNS INTL44.46-1.57-3.41%

Papa John's International has reached an agreement with ousted founder John Schnatter, who agreed to step down from the company's board in exchange for helping pick his replacement. Schnatter, who resigned as CEO in December 2017 and then as chairman last year after using a racial slur during a conference call, holds an approximately 31 percent stake in the company.

In Asian market trading on Tuesday, China’s Shanghai composite gained 0.9 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng finished unchanged and Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.4 percent.

In Europe, the major markets finished the day higher. London’s FTSE added 0.7 percent, Germany’s DAX gained 0.2 percent and France’s CAC added 0.2 percent.

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At the end of the week, the government will release the biggest report of them all, the monthly jobs report on Friday.

FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.