Wall Street's Rally Sputters as Energy, Finance Shares Slump

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The markets skidded into the red on Tuesday after downward pressure heated up on energy and financial names in afternoon action.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 43.9 points, or 0.33%, to 13198, the S&P 500 dipped 4 points, or 0.28%, to 1413 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 2.2 points, or 0.07%, to 3120.

Energy stocks like Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) and financials such as Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) came under pressure on the day. Helping to counteract that negative momentum, was strength among utilities and health-care names.

The broad S&P 500 zoomed to its highest level since May 2008 on Monday as traders cheered commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinting that the central bank will continue on its pro-growth monetary policy regime until the labor market begins improving at a much quicker rate.

Despite the weakness on the day, many market participants remained upbeat on Wall Street's trajectory.

"It may be a quiet day,but it's definitely not a dead market," New York Stock Exchange floor trader Teddy Weisberg said in an interview with FOX Business. "The bulls are in the driver's seat at the moment."

Indeed, a slew of big-name companies notched all-time highs on the day. The list included technology titans Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and IBM (NYSE:IBM), coffee giant Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and retailer Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST).

The focus remained squarely on the U.S. economy on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas shows home prices fell 0.8% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in January, a slightly bigger decline than the 0.6% drop expected. Home prices were down 3.8% from a year ago, in line with estimates.

Home prices that were pummeled during the financial crisis have remained depressed and data have shown demand still remains weak while supplies have been running high.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s reading on consumer confidence came in at 70.2 in March, lower than an upwardly revised 71.6 in February. The reading was slightly under expectations of 70.3. Analysts have been paying especially close attention to the important consumer sector as quickly rising gasoline prices have begun cutting into budgets.

On the corporate front, Abu Dhabi's ruling family has been involved in talks about acquiring a stake in British state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS), according to a report by Reuters. The report said the deal was not yet closed and that it could take months before it is finalized.

Commodities were little changed. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York gained 30 cents, or 0.28%, to $107.33 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline slipped 0.32% to $3.406 a gallon.

In metals, gold ticked lower by 50 cents, or 0.03%, to $1,688 a troy ounce. U.S. Treasuries advanced, pushing yields slightly lower. The 10-year yield fell 0.01-percentage point to 2.241%.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips dipped 0.58%, the English FTSE 100 edged lower by 0.56% to 5870 and the German DAX was unchanged at 7079.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 soared 2.4% to 10255 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 1.8% to 21047.