The S&P 500 was 6 points, or 0.3%, lower at 1,878.60. Financials and consumer discretionary sector stocks led the losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Averagefell 62 points, or 0.4%, to 16,468.91. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 14 points, or 0.3%, to 4,125.33.
The sole economic report on Tuesday was data on the U.S. trade deficit, which narrowed in March, as the nation boosted exports of gas, oil and commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department said. The deficit fell 3.6% to $40.4 billion, slightly above the consensus of $40 billion.
Merck falls, Office Depot surges on earningsIn deal news, Merck agreed to sell its consumer-products business, including the allergy-treatment Claritin and nasal decongestant Afrin, to German drug maker Bayer AG for $14.2 billion.
Office Depot Inc. shares surged 16% after the electronics retailer raised its outlook for 2014 operating profit and said it plans to close at least 400 U.S. stores by the end of 2016.
Shares of Athenahealth fell 12%, after David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital said at a conference Monday that the health-information technology firm is “overpriced” and “caught up in a bubble.”
Among the sectors worst hit today were financials, which continued their slide from the previous session. Morgan Stanley fell 1.5% while Goldman Sachs traded 0.9% lower.
DirecTV shares rose 2.1% even as the company said first-quarter earnings fell 19%. The company, however, continued to boost its subscriber numbers, surpassing 38 million customers.
Quarterly results from media and entertainment conglomerate Disney upscale grocer Whole Foods as well as e-commerce and daily-deals company Groupon Inc. are due after Wall Street’s regular close.
Disney is projected to report second-quarter earnings of 96 cents a share, according to a consensus survey by FactSet, while Whole Foods is projected to report earnings of 41 cents a share in the second quarter. Groupon Inc. is forecast to post a loss of 3 cents a share in the first quarter.
European stocks lower, Asian market closedAhead of Wall Street’s open, European stocks reversed earlier gains and moved lower.
On Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the European Central Bank should immediately cut its benchmark interest rate, to end a period of too-low inflation in the euro zone.
Asian stocks were slightly higher, with Australia up after the country’s central bank held interest rates steady. Markets in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were closed.
In the commodities markets Tuesday, gold futures fell slightly. Crude for June delivery gained slightly but still remained below the $100 a barrel level. Meanwhile, the pound bought $1.6980 and traded at levels not seen since at least 2009 after strong U.K. services data.