U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday as persistent concerns over Europe and a weaker reading on U.S. economic growth kept investors on edge, although the downside was limited after four days of losses.
The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than previously estimated in the third quarter, a troubling sign as investors worry about the pace of expansion. Gross domestic product grew at a two percent annual rate, down from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent.
The data came on top of other headwinds that have discouraged buyers of riskier assets. The worries about debt problems in the U.S. and Europe helped spur losses of almost 2 percent for the S&P 500 on Monday, while the Dow turned negative for the year. Last week, the S&P recorded its worst week in two months.
It isn't much of a surprise to see GDP slow down, given some of the economic issues out there, but still this is not a good number, said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia
That said, given how far we've fallen, and how little volume there is out there, a rebound isn't unexpected.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 11.66 points, or 0.10 percent, at 11,535.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.72 points, or 0.06 percent, at 1,193.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.63 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,528.77.
The S&P has fallen through a key support level at 1,200. The next technical support was seen at 1,187, representing the 61.8 percent retracement of the 2011 high to low.
We're in a range between about 1,180 and 1,250 on the S&P, and we're unlikely to break out of that until we see real policy changes get implemented in Europe, said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York. However, we do have a higher floor for markets than a month ago, and that's positive.
Hewlett-Packard Co. dropped four percent to $25.73 after the computer and printer maker gave a 2012 profit outlook that was below consensus late Monday. It was the biggest loser on the Dow.
Also pressuring stocks, the co-chairs of a special U.S. congressional committee said late Monday it failed to reach a deal on reducing government deficits. Investors are worried the stalemate will make it more difficult to pass extensions of measures like payroll tax cuts that could help stimulate the economy.
Trading volume is likely to be thin this week as global uncertainties and the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday keep many investors on the sidelines.
Campbell Soup Co. reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations while sales were slightly below consensus, sending the stock down 3.2 percent to $32.52. Medtronic Inc also reported profit above estimates, and the stock rose 3.6 percent to $34.48.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)