After stellar gains on Wall Street Monday, stocks pulled back Tuesday, closing near the lows of the session. The Dow fell 44 points; the Nasdaq eased 2 points; and the S&P 500 gave up 4.
But investors were more worried about a report showing home prices fell to their lowest levels in nearly a decade in January, and a consumer confidence reading that showed high gas prices are finally starting to have an impact on Main Street.
Futures Wednesday were indicating a modestly higher open, with S&P futures up 3 points at 1409.
As gas prices climb to a national average of $3.91 a gallon, natural gas prices fall to the lowest levels of the year. At $2.2080 per btu, Tuesday's settle was the lowest for nat gas since February of 2002.
Low nat gas prices are due to booming production, particularly in the shale regions of Texas and Pennsylvania. And while supply is up, demand is down; the mild winter weather experienced across the nation caused many homes to burn less nat gas to heat their homes.
Analysts say the boom is fueling a manufacturing revival in the U.S. Many chemical, mining, and manufacturing giants -- like Nucor Steel (NYSE:NUE), Potash (NYSE:POT), and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) -- are building new plants to take advantage of the huge supply of nat gas and the cheap prices. Analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers predict that manufacturers can save $11.6 billion a year and create half a million jobs through 2025.
Meanwhile, Potter fans out there, you're in luck! You can now buy Harry Potter books in digital form. Author J.K. Rowling made her hugely-popular series available on an array of e-readers, including the Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble Nook, for the first time Tuesday.
The e-books will not be encrypted, so they can be downloaded in a variety of formats and read on a variety of devices.
When Potter book buyers go to purchase a digital copy, they’ll be automatically directed to Pottermore.com, Rowling’s website for all things Harry Potter.