FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014 file photo, people pass a Wall Street subway stop, in New York's Financial District. U.S. stocks moved lower in early trading Tuesday, March 31, 2015, erasing some gains from the day before. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE - This July 16, 2013 file photo shows a Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York. U.S. stocks are starting the week sharply higher Monday, March 30, 2015, led by energy companies. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
U.S. stocks veered lower in midday trading Tuesday, relinquishing some of the gains from the day before. Industrial and energy stocks were among the biggest decliners. Oil prices extended their slide. Investors weighed positive economic data on housing and consumers with concerns over the possibility of a deeper slide in oil prices.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 121 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,855 as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,075. The Nasdaq composite shed 30 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,917.
THE QUOTE: Following a big jump in indexes Monday, many investors were opting to take some profits out of the market, said Paul Christopher, head of international strategy at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
"There's also rising concern about oil prices, especially as the U.S. gets closer to a deal with Iran, there's some speculation that Iran will be able to release a lot of oil into the world," he said. That could stoke fears of deflation, which can hurt corporate profits, Christopher said.
MORE CONFIDENT: The Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose to 101.3 in March from revised 98.8 reading in February. The improvement reflects a pickup in hiring. Over the past year, employers have added nearly 3.3 million jobs, the fastest 12-month pace of hiring since 1998.
HOME SWEET HOME: A key gauge of U.S. home prices increased in January. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday rose 4.6 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier. The increase in U.S. home prices comes amid a decline in homes for sale in many markets, which pushes prices higher.
SECTOR WATCH: Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 were down. Industrial stocks fell the most, while consumer discretionary stocks edged higher. Kraft Foods Group notched one of the biggest declines in the S&P 500. Its shares fell $3.34, or 3.7 percent, to $87.33.
BIG DISCOUNT: Synta Pharmaceuticals tumbled 18.5 percent after the biotechnology company priced a public offering of 22 million shares of common stock below the prior day's closing price. The stock shed 43 cents to $1.90.
CABLE CONSOLIDATION: Shares in Charter Communications jumped 7.2 percent on news the company has agreed to buy fellow cable operator Bright House Networks in a deal valued at $10.4 billion. Charter added $13.20 to $196.59.
TIMELY PROFIT: Movado Group surged 13.6 percent after the luxury watch maker reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent. The stock gained $3.49 to $29.12.
QUARTER'S END: Trading, as is often the case at the end of the quarter, was impacted by traders looking to close out positions to make their books look as healthy as possible.
OVERSEAS ACTION: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 1 percent, while Germany's DAX fell 1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 1.7 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.1 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 58 cents to $48.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.94 percent from 1.95 percent late Monday.