* Home Depot and Macy's rally after results
* Markets seek direction after rise to all-time high
* Consumer confidence falls more than expected in Feb
* Indexes: Dow off 0.01 pct, S&P off 0.02 pct, Nasdaq off
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 25 U.S. stocks were nearly flat on
Tuesday as a rise in retail shares following strong results from
companies including Home Depot was offset by
weaker-than-expected consumer confidence data.
The S&P 500, which hit an intraday record high on Monday,
remained points from its all-time closing high of 1,848.38 but
still in negative territory for the year.
Home Depot shares rose 2.8 percent to $80.09, giving the S&P
500 its biggest boost. The Dow component's earnings beat
expectations, though sales fell more than expected in the fourth
quarter. Macy's Inc jumped 6.3 percent to
$56.41 after the retailer reported a drop in January sales, but
said fourth-quarter earnings rose from the prior year.
"There are a couple of credible pieces of information that
didn't get caught in the snow drifts," said Fred Dickson, chief
market strategist, D.A. Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
"Consumers are spending."
The S&P retail index rose 1.7 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.92 points or
0.01 percent, to 16,205.22, the S&P 500 lost 0.33 points
or 0.02 percent, to 1,847.28 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 4.08 points or 0.1 percent, to 4,288.888.
In the latest economic data, the S&P/Case-Shiller index of
home prices rose slightly more than expected in December, but
February consumer confidence fell more than expected.
The confidence report was the latest in a string of economic
data that came in below forecasts. While many analysts pin the
weakness to harsh winter weather rather than weakening
fundamentals, trading are looking for evidence the market's
levels are justified.
Many traders are looking ahead to Thursday, when Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak to the Senate Banking
Committee in semi-annual testimony about monetary policy. Her
comments will be scoured for insight into how bad weather has
affected economic activity, as well as for confirmation the Fed
will not change its schedule for trimming stimulus.
Among other corporate results, Tenet Healthcare Corp
late Monday swung to a net loss in its fourth quarter, though
adjusted earnings were better than expected. Shares fell 8.3
percent to $44.34.
Perry Ellis International Inc shares dropped 17.1
percent to $13 and hit their lowest level since late 2011, a day
after forecasting a fall in quarterly revenue.