Stocks closed out the first quarter of the year with mixed results but the Nasdaq powered ahead with strong gains. Bobbi Rebell reports.
U.S. stocks took a step back after a sharp rally Monday. All three major stock gauges edging lower on the day as oil prices slipped amid Iranian nuclear talks and the dollar strengthened. Tuesday marked the end of a mixed first quarter for stocks. The Nasdaq a big winner up 3.5 percent. More consolidation in the cable industry. The number four player in the U.S., Charter Communications, is buying the number six player, Bright House Networks, for more than $10 billion in cash and stock. Charter shares rising sharply on the day. IBM is investing $3 billion in a new business to help customers use data from sensor-equipped devices and smartphones. And McDonald's plans to test selling breakfast items all day - the latest move by new CEO, Steve Easterbrook, to jumpstart flagging sales. Lots of econ data... A regional manufacturing survey ticked up slightly but still reflects contraction in the midwest, the strong dollar and weak global demand dragging on U.S. factory activity. Home prices grew 4.6 percent in January according to the S&P/Case Shiller index of 20 major metro areas led by strong increases in the South and West. But David Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Indices cautions with home prices growing at roughly double the rate of wages, the housing market is facing future headwinds. SOUNDBITE: DAVID BLITZER, CHAIRMAN, S&P DOW JONES INDICIES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We can do that for a little while without squeezing anyone out of the housing market, but we can't do it indefinitely. The pool of people who can comfortably afford to buy a house is going to shrink when prices outpace wages that way." Meanwhile a reading on U.S. consumer confidence reflects a hopeful mood. The Conference Board's March survey coming in ahead of forecasts. Consumers feeling more bullish about job prospects in the months ahead. European shares were down on the day but recorded big gains for the quarter with Germany's DAX posting its strongest ever first-quarter gain.