Stocks fall early on 1-year anniversary of low
Stocks inched lower in early trading Tuesday, a year after the stock market hit bottom during the recession.
With little in the way of economic reports or earnings to help drive shares higher, investors are taking a breather after major indexes rose the past few weeks.
Stocks have surged over the last year since hitting 12-year lows. The Dow Jones industrial average is up 61.2 percent during that stretch. But traders' expectations about an economic recovery have also grown. That means it will take more than just an occasional upbeat economic report or earnings release to send stocks up.
Stocks are also seen as more fairly priced now, so it will take exceeding higher expectations for growth and economic recovery to help sustain a rally.
Overseas, Asian stocks were little changed, while European shares fell. A few disappointing earnings reports and renewed concerns about how banks will perform once stimulus measures are removed helped push major indexes in Europe lower.
In early morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 8.69, or 0.1 percent, to 10,543.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.62, or 0.2 percent, to 1,135.88, while the Nasdaq composite index dropped 3.01, or 0.1 percent, at 2,329.20.
In corporate news, Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA said they are combining their animal health businesses. The joint business will control about 29 percent of the $19 billion market for pet and livestock medicines.
Major indexes were narrowly mixed on Monday. The Dow dipped 14 points. The mixed trading came as investors saw no big reasons to move the market in either direction. It also came one session after the Labor Department said the employers cut fewer jobs in February than expected, which helped the market rally.
While the report was positive, investors are likely to stay cautious until they see actual jobs growth. High unemployment remains a major stumbling block to a sustained economic recovery.
Insurer American International Group Inc. announced Monday it reached a deal to sell a major foreign subsidiary to MetLife Inc. for $15.5 billion. The deal was AIG's second major sale this month. It has been shedding assets to help repay billions in government bailout money.
During the strongest periods of the market's rally over the past year, such deals would have been a reason to bid up stocks.