Stocks End Flat After Volatile, Geopolitics-Fueled Session

The major U.S. averages traded in positive territory on Tuesday after experiencing steep morning losses after a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey, and as traders in America parsed a deluge of mixed economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 19 points higher, or 0.11% to 117812. The S&P 500 rose 2 points, or 0.13% to 2089, while the Nasdaq Composite gained a fraction of a point, or 0.01% to 5102.

The energy sector saw the most substantial gains on the session, while utilities, and financials experienced the steepest losses.

Today’s Markets

Overnight, a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane near the border of Turkey and Syria after repeated warnings of airspace violations, though Russian President Vladimir Putin said the pilots “did not threaten anybody.”

The incident came hours before French President Francois Hollande was set to meet U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss an allied response to the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, and just hours after the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Americans going abroad due to “increased terrorist threats.”

Travel-related names saw declines on the heels of the news, Airlines including United Continental (NYSE:UAL), American Airlines (NYSE:AAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) each saw losses of more than 3%. Cruise operators including Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), and Carnival (NYSE:CCL) posted 2% declines.

“Syrian airspace has become increasingly populated by military planes from a variety of nations, and today’s news…is merely confirmation of the situation’s complexity. The subsequent collapse in Turkish lira and equities reflects how nervous investors are over military action in Syria,” IG market analyst Alastair McCaig said in a note.

Despite the global uncertainty, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was basically flat, falling 0.018 percentage point to 2.234%, while the U.S. dollar fell against a basket of traditionally safe-haven currencies.

European equity markets also took a step lower on the news. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks large cap-companies in the eurozone, declined 1.42%. The German Dax shed 1.72% while the French CAC 40 shed 1.79%, and the UK’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.74%.

Commodity prices saw green as global oil prices jumped on conflict in the Middle East, and as the weaker dollar provided momentum to buy. U.S. crude prices jumped 2.68% to $42.87 a barrel, while Brent, the international benchmark, spiked 2.88% to $46.12 a barrel.

The energy sector was the only gainer on the session as major names in the space including Exxon (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) were among the Dow’s top three gainers.

Metal prices, meanwhile, were also higher as gold, traditionally a safe haven, jumped 0.70% to $1,074 a troy ounce. Silver prices gained 0.90% to $14.17 an ounce, while copper added 1.68% to $2.05 a pound.

In the U.S., traders parsed a deluge of economic data. The Commerce Department’s second reading on third-quarter GDP showed the world’s biggest economy grew at a 2.1% pace during the quarter. The reading matched expectations, and was revised up from a prior reading of 1.5%

Data from S&P/Case-Shiller showed home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas rose 0.2% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, below expectations for a 0.4% increase. From the same period last year, prices rose 5.5%, beating forecasts for a 5.1% rise.

Also on the calendar is home price data from S&P/Case-Shiller, which is forecasted to show prices climbed 0.4% during the reporting period; and consumer confidence data from the University of Michigan, expected to show shoppers grew more enthusiastic during the reporting period.

Economists at Barclyas, in a note, said that despite the increases in Tuesday’s report, home prices have recently stabilized with major indexes showing year-over-year gains of close to 5% since 2014.

“We expect solid employment growth and modest wage increases to continue to support the housing market. We see ongoing gradual increases in house prices, a steady rise in residential construction, and further gains in new and existing home sales,” the note read.

The latest read on consumer confidence from the University of Michigan showed shoppers were less enthusiastic in November than had been expected. The gauge dropped to 90.4 during the month from an October reading of 99.1. Economists had forecast a rise to 99.5.

On the corporate news front, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) reported a surprise decline in quarterly revenue as the strong dollar dented the luxury retailer’s ability to lure in foreign buyers in the U.S. Same-store sales dropped 5% during the third quarter.

Investors also looked ahead to the latest quarterly results after the closing bell from Hewlett-Packard (NASDAQ:HPQ). The hardware giant is expected to reveal earnings per share of 45 cents on revenue of $12.86 billion.