(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended in red as lingering worries over the looming "fiscal cliff" offset a set of positive economic reports and news out of Europe.
The S&P 500 Index retreated 0.52 percent to end at 1,398.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.69 percent to finish at 12,878.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.30 percent to close at 2,967.79.
President Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office has said a failure to avoid the fiscal cliff could push the U.S. economy back into a recession.
Also denting the sentiment were remarks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said that "fiscal cliff" discussions have made "little progress".
The Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a plan to reduce Greece's sovereign long-term debt by around 40 billion euros, or 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020. European partners also committed to bring back Greece's debt to substantially below 110 percent of GDP by 2022, conditional on full implementation of the program by Greece.
On the domestic data front, durable-goods orders for October were unchanged, versus economists expectations of a fall of 0.6 percent. New orders - excluding transportation - unexpectedly rose 1.5 percent, while expectations were for a 0.5 percent decline. Durable-goods orders measures the change in the total value of new orders for long lasting manufactured goods.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index increased to 73.7 in November from 73.1 in the previous month, hitting a four-year high.
The S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, which measures the change in the selling price of single-family homes in 20 metropolitan areas, rose 3.0 percent for September from last year.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: GLW, RAH, CAG, LVS, THO, MNST, GNRC, MMR, CDTI, ACAD
In corporate news, Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) surged 6.87 percent after the maker of LCD-glass forecast stronger-than-expected LCD glass volume for the fourth quarter, driven by demand for LCD TVs in North America.
Ralcorp Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RAH) surged 26.44 percent after the maker of private-brand food products agreed to be acquired by ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) for $90.00 per share in cash or about $6.8 billion, including the assumption of debt. CAG shares gained 4.74 percent.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) gained 5.29 percent after the casino operator declared a special cash dividend of $2.75 a share.
Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THO) retreated 11.47 percent after the maker of recreation vehicles reported first-quarter results that trailed market expectations.
Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) jumped 13.26 percent. Investors shifted gears from recent selloffs, betting fears of a regulatory clampdown on energy drinks have been overblown, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNRC) gained 6.06 percent. The maker of generators announced the withdrawal of a secondary offering of shares due to market conditions.
McMoran Exploration Co. (NYSE: MMR) declined 15.23 percent after the company updated its ultra-deep exploration and development activities in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Shelf and onshore in the Gulf Coast area.
Clean Diesel Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CDTI) surged 12.96 percent after the company announced its Purifilter EGR emission reduction system received verification from the Environmental Protection Agency.
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD) more than doubled its value after the company announced successful results from a late-stage trial of its drug pimavanserin in patients with Parkinson's disease psychosis.
European markets ended in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.55 percent to close at 7,332.33. France's CAC40 added 0.03 percent to finish at 3,502.13. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.22 percent to end at 5,799.71.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index tumbled 1.30 percent to finish at 1,991.17. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.37 percent to finish at 9,423.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.08 percent to end at 21,844.03. India's BSE Sensex ended at 18,842.08, up 1.65 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures fell 0.64 percent to $87.18 per barrel, while natural gas futures rose 0.70 percent to $3.76 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures dropped 0.48 percent to $1,741.2 per ounce and silver futures slid 0.41 percent to $34.09 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro lost 0.30 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2933. The British pound edged 0.09 percent lower against the greenback to 1.6012, while the dollar added 0.09 percent against the Japanese yen at 82.1600.