NEW YORK – U.S. stocks fell, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed to a record close last week, as investors assessed the strength of the economy and developments in Ukraine.
Urban Outfitters Inc. dropped 4.6 percent after saying it remains cautious about its performance in the first quarter. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. tumbled 5.3 percent after forecasting results that trailed analysts’ estimates. J.C. Penney Co. rallied 8.6 percent after Citigroup Inc. raised its recommendation on the retail chain. McDonald’s Corp. rose 3.5 percent after an executive said the company may look to cut costs and borrow more cash to return to investors.
The S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,871.14 at 12:23 p.m. in New York. The benchmark index closed at an all-time high of 1,878.04 on March 7. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 51.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,367.52 on Tuesday. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 19 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.
“The equity market is going to make continued progress in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of progression,” Jim Russell, who helps oversee $115 billion as a senior equity strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said by phone. “We’re still evaluating how much of the economic weakness is weather related and how much of it is legitimate. We’re hopeful that much of the weakness we’ve seen is weather related and that we’ll get a snapback in the second quarter.”
The S&P 500 rallied 4.3 percent in February after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the economy was strong enough to withstand measured reductions to the central bank’s monthly bond purchases. Three rounds of Fed stimulus have helped push the S&P 500 up 177 percent from a 12-year low, as U.S. equities begin the sixth year of a bull market that started March 9, 2009.
The Fed is trying to determine how much of the recent economic cooling has been due to weather. U.S. employers added more workers than estimated in February, a Labor Department report showed last week. Other reports indicated manufacturing expanded faster than projected last month, while consumer spending rose more than estimated in January.