Stocks dipped on Wednesday as an unexpected rise in wholesale inventories was offset by an outlook from Texas Instruments Inc that suggested the recovery in technology spending would be sluggish.
Stocks were also buffeted by concerns about the global economic recovery after ratings agency Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on Spain to negative, the day after Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece's debt rating.
The industrials sector led the way down after Macquarie Securities downgraded defense shares, saying the companies will likely continue to underperform in 2010. Lockheed Martin
But losses were limited after data showed wholesale inventories rose in October for the first time in more than a year, suggesting the drawing down of unsold goods was nearing an end and underscoring optimism about the recovery.
It shows a growing conviction on the part of manufacturers that they are going to move these goods, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.
Therefore they are actually increasing their inventories so that when orders come, in they can meet those orders.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 13.08 points, or 0.13 percent, to 10,272.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was off 2.72 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,089.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 10.95 points, or 0.50 percent, to 2,162.04.
(Additional reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Kenneth Barry)