Sept. 24 - Summary: Markets nervous ahead of a government shutdown debate; home prices rise less than expected; homebuilders beat thanks to tight supplies; Twitter leaning towards NYSE- source. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street tries to shake off a four-day chill but a lack of progress in Washington's budget battle makes that difficult. The Dow and S&P 500 have fallen every day since hitting record highs last week. The Nasdaq, however, saw a small move higher. Home price gains slowed in July across 20 major cities in the U.S., according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, as the housing market responds to the spike in interest rates during the spring. In a somewhat conflicting sign, Lennar beat expectations as it sold more homes at higher prices and KB Home also topped forecast. Tight supplies are working in their favor. Shares of Lennar and KB both moved higher along with other homebuilding stocks. Consumers, however, are showing they are concerned about higher interest rates. Consumer confidence eroded slightly this month, with shoppers also once again worried about the labor market. Applied Materials stunned investors with a more than $9 billion deal to merge with Tokyo Electron. A merger of the chip equipment makers creates a $29 billion company aimed at taking advantage of growth in demand for chips used in smartphones and tablets. Shares of Applied Materials surged to a five-year high. Twitter may be looking to make a home for its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. A person familiar with the matter says the microblog is leaning towards the Big Board. An earlier report said a decision has been made, but sources close to the NYSE and the Nasdaq say that is not the case. Neither exchange wanted to comment. Neither did Twitter. The worst appears not to be over at Carnival. The cruise operator beat adjusted earnings last quarter, but warned it could post a loss this quarter. Analysts say bookings are down and ship occupants are spending less per cruise following a series of disasters. Shares of Carnival losing almost 8 percent in Tuesday trade. Markets across Europe posted small gains after a sweetened offer in the telecom sector.