Stocks fell from session highs on Tuesday after data showed consumer confidence plunged to a record low in February, with expectations for an even weaker economy and more jobs lost.
Adding to the gloom, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned in testimony that the recession, which started in December 2007, may not end this year.
Major indexes had risen more than 1 percent earlier in the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 36.72 points, or 0.52 percent, to 7,151.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 5.95 points, or 0.80 percent, to 749.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 14.30 points, or 1.03 percent, to 1,402.02.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by James Dalgleish)