Wall Street closes lower

US investors show caution amid mixed data and earnings reports

United States stocks closed slightly lower as investors weigh a slew of indicators on the economy.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 27.48 points, or 0.17%, to 16,179.66.

The broad-based S&P 500 inched down 2.49 points, or 0.14%, to 1,845.12, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index lost 5.38 points, or 0.13%, to 4,287.59.

The S&P 500 was trading above its record closing high of 1848.38 for much of the day, but appears unlikely to set a new mark.

In economic news, the Case-Shiller house price index showed a slight drop of 0.1% in December, though prices were still 11.3% higher than they were at the start of 2013.

Meanwhile, US consumer confidence dropped in February from 79.4 to 78.1, according to The Conference Board. This was well below expectations for a reading of 80.8, though survey participants did suggest the economy had improved.

In company news, retailer Macy's fell short of earnings expectations for the fourth quarter. Its stock still climbed over 4% as investors were cheered by the company maintaining its guidance for 2014.

Fellow retailer Home Depot was also well supported by the market, lifting 2% on better-than-expected sales numbers, while the nation;s largest bank - JP Morgan Chase & Co - lost 1% after announcing more job cuts than expected.

In other news, the Federal Reserve's leading bank supervisor, Daniel Tarullo, struck an optimism tone on the economy but warned that credit risks were rising.

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