Wall Street drifts lower on home price and consumer data

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday as investors were reluctant to take large positions in either direction and largely shrugged off weaker-than-expected data on consumer confidence and home prices.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index showed prices of U.S. single-family homes fell almost double the expected pace in October. U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated month over month in December, hurt by increasing worries about the jobs market, according to a private report.

«Everybody has done what they need to do. The money that has been put in place has been put in place until the end of the year — in spite of the fact we may get some modestly surprising data,» said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) dropped 5.79 points, or 0.05 percent, to 11,549.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX) shed 0.58 points, or 0.05 percent, to 1,256.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) dipped 4.16 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,663.11.

General Motors Co (GM.N) gained 2.2 percent to $35.37 after several analysts initiated coverage of the automaker’s shares, including «overweight» ratings at Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley.

Trading volumes, already light for the holiday season, were expected to remain thin as the northeastern United States digs itself out from a blizzard that disrupted air and rail travel at the end of the busy Christmas weekend.

The blizzard pushed oil prices up to just below 26-month high struck the previous session with U.S. crude for February up 27 cents at $91.27 a barrel.

Despite the weaker-than-expected consumer confidence data, holiday sales offered further evidence of a returning consumer according to several reports.

MannKind Corp (MNKD.O) jumped 7.9 percent to $8.60 after the inhaled-insulin developer said the U.S. health regulator would not be able to complete the review of Afrezza by December 29 and would require about four more weeks

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