NEW YORK -- Mixed economic news and light trading led stocks to close barely changed Tuesday. Consumer confidence surged to an eight-month high, but home prices dropped in major cities. Sears plummeted after reporting that it would close more than 100 stores around the country.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 2.65 points, or 0.02 percent, at 12,291.35. The S&P 500 was up 0.10 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,265.43. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.56, or 0.3 percent, to 2,625.20.
Survey: Home prices down in most major U.S. cities
WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices fell in most major cities for the second straight month, further evidence that the housing recovery will be bumpy and weigh on the broader economy in 2012.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in October from September in 19 of the 20 cities tracked.
The decline reflects the typical fall slowdown after the peak buying season. Prices had risen modestly in April through August in at least half of the cities tracked.
Still, home prices have fallen roughly 32 percent nationwide since the housing bubble burst five years ago and are back to 2003 levels, according to the index.
Obama nominates 2 to Federal Reserve Board
HONOLULU -- President Barack Obama has nominated a Harvard University professor and a former Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush -- a Democrat and a Republican -- to the Federal Reserve Board.
Obama praised Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell for agreeing to serve his administration at a critical moment for the U.S. economy.
Stein is an economics professor at Harvard, where he teaches finance. His research focuses on the behavior of stock prices, corporate investment and financial regulation. He previously served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Powell is a visiting scholar at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center, where he focused on federal and state fiscal issue. He served as undersecretary of finance at the Treasury Department in the first Bush administration, where he was responsible for policy on financial institutions and the treasury debt market.
MetLife to sell retail deposits business to GE Capital
NORWALK, Conn. -- MetLife said Tuesday it plans to sell its U.S. retail deposit business to GE Capital as it moves away from being a bank holding company.
Financial terms were not disclosed. MetLife, which offers insurance and employee-benefit programs, said in July that it was exploring the sale of its banking operations to focus on its other business.
GE Capital's banking business, GE Capital Financial, will acquire $7.5 billion in deposits. About $3 billion in other deposits are not part of the deal, but will be transferred out of MetLife Bank in the next six months.
It has not yet been determined where the $3 billion will be transferred, said company spokesman John Calagna.
GE Capital is a unit of General Electric. MetLife shares rose 10 cents to $31.20 Tuesday. GE shares fell 22 cents to $18.01.
Greek Christmas sales slump 30 percent
ATHENS, Greece -- Greek retailers said Tuesday that sales fell an estimated 30 percent this Christmas in the worst festive showing for shop owners in years as the country grapples with a debt crisis and a severe recession.
Preliminary figures from the National Confederation of Greek Commerce found that clothes and shoe sales took the heaviest hit, falling 40 percent compared to Christmas 2010, the second straight fall since the crisis broke out in late 2009. Consumption of food and drinks fell 15 percent, while toy sales suffered least.
Greece is heading for a fourth year of recession and has near-record-high unemployment, which reached 17.5 percent in September. It has been kept afloat by foreign rescue loans since May 2010, after years of government overspending left the country unable to borrow from money markets and on the brink of bankruptcy.