Stocks fell on Tuesday weighed by disappointing blue-chip earnings, including 3M and Johnson & Johnson, ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.
Six Dow components have reported results since the close of trading on Monday, including J&J
Shares of diversified manufacturer 3M fell 2.6 percent to $87.98 as results barely topped estimates, apparently displeasing investors wowed by recent earnings blowouts from other industrial names.
J&J said U.S. sales of consumer products fell sharply, and forecast 2011 earnings below expectations, sending its shares down 2 percent to $61.
Stocks have rallied such that you need to have really blowout numbers for shares to continue gaining, said Michael Yoshikami, president and chief investment strategist at YCMNET Advisors in Walnut Creek, California. I think we'll see a trend of strong earnings but stocks that dip afterwards.
Equities have advanced in recent weeks partly in anticipation of strong corporate results. The rally wilted last week after weak bank earnings, with the S&P ending a seven-week run of gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 51.35 points, or 0.43 percent, to 11,929.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 6.06 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,284.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 14.17 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,703.38.
In the latest economic data, U.S. consumer confidence rose in January to its highest level in eight months, but single-family home prices fell for a fifth straight month in November.
The economic news is mixed and not much of a catalyst one way or the other, said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com.
It's almost like people are stepping back, waiting for what the president says.
In his speech Tuesday night, Obama is expected to challenge Republican proposals to cut the federal budget in an effort to slow the growth of the country's $14 trillion debt.
Verizon Communications Inc
American Express Co
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)