The Dow Jones industrial average closed down just 2 points after staying in a narrow range all day. The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq eked out small gains.
In the latest sign of a bumpy recovery in the housing market, home prices fell in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index. Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis posted the biggest declines. Prices in Atlanta and Las Vegas fell to their lowest points since the housing crisis began.
That report dampened investors’ enthusiasm about a jump in consumer confidence to the highest level since April. The New York-based Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose almost 10 points to 64.5 in December. Economists watch the numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Henry Herrmann, chief executive officer at the investment management firm Waddell & Reed, said the increase reflected the fact that more jobs have been created in recent weeks, which will likely lead to “a more sustained” economic recovery.