Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, November 16, 2010. REUTERS

U.S. stocks are slightly down in afternoon trading as investors weigh better-than-expected U.S. economic data against continued sovereign debt woes from Europe.

The S&P 500 Index has fallen 4.29 points, or 0.36 percent, to trade at 1,183.47 at 3:13 p.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 18.77 points, or 0.17 percent, to trade at 11,033.72. The Nasdaq Composite has fallen 0.94 percent.

U.S. economic data came in better-than-expected. A consumer confidence index for November rose to the highest level in 5 months, climbing to 54.1, up from 49.9 last month and above Bloomberg’s consensus estimate of 53. Meanwhile, a gauge of business activity in the Chicago area surged to the highest level in 6 months. However, a housing index showed that home prices in 20 U.S. cities declined 0.7 percent from August to September.

The sovereign debt situation in Europe continued to worsen. Peripheral bonds (including those of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and even Belgium), the euro currency, and European equities all fell on Tuesday.

The market has not been quieted with Ireland’s bailout package and is worried that the sovereign crisis spreading to countries like Portugal and Spain.