Stocks Turn Red in Afternoon Action


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The markets fell in afternoon trading, led by a very weak performance in the telecommunications sector.

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Today's Markets

As of 1:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 29.7 points, or 0.19%, to 15491, the S&P 500 dipped 1.7 points, or 0.1%, to 1684 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 9.9 points, or 0.27%, to 3609.

Corporate reporting season was in full swing Tuesday, with two Dow components posting quarterly earnings. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), the biggest U.S. drugmaker, revealed better-than-expected quarterly profits, and sales that were in-line with estimates. Merck (NYSE:PFE) unveiled a stronger-than-expected EPS, but light sales.

Meanwhile, Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH) said it will scoop up smaller rival Health Management Associates (NYSE:HMA) for $3.9 billion to strengthen its base amid tumult in the health-care industry.

UBS (NYSE:UBS) will buy back a fund of what used to be toxic assets it jettisoned to the Swiss central bank during the financial crisis in 2008. Barclays (NYSE:BCS) plans on raising $8.9 billion from shareholders as it looks to bolster its regulatory capital. The U.S. energy market regulator accused J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) late Monday of manipulating power markets. A J.P. Morgan spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

On the economic front, home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan markets climbed 2.4% in May on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report. Economists expected a slightly slimmer gain of 2.3%. Prices were up 12.2% from the year prior, the biggest jump since March 2006.The gauge is a lagging indicator, but it's closely watched by Wall Street.

The Conference Board said its gauge of consumer confidence fell to 80.3 in July, from 82.1 in June. Economists expected a reading of 81.4.

Elsewhere, U.S. oil futures sold off by $1.05, or 1%, to $103.50 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.2% to $3.006 a gallon. In metals, gold slumped $5.80, or 0.42%, to $1,324 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.69% to 2761, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.21% to 6574 and the German DAX advanced 0.39% to 8291.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.5% to 13870 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged up 0.48% to 21954.

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