US stocks declined on Tuesday as the market continued its retreat from last week's rally on the "fiscal cliff" deal in Congress as investors awaited the start of the earnings season with muted expectations.
Profits in the fourth quarter are seen above the previous quarter's lackluster results, but analysts' current estimates are down sharply from where they were in October. Quarterly earnings are expected to grow by 2.7 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The benchmark S&P index has fallen 0.5 percent in the wake of the 4.3 percent jump in the two days surrounding the conclusion of the fiscal cliff debate, and investors have found few catalysts to extend the brief rally.
"We had a brief respite courtesy of what happened on the fiscal cliff deal and the flip of the calendar with new money coming into the market," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
"But now the stark reality of uncertainty with regard to earnings, plus the negotiations on the debt ceiling, are there and that doesn't give investors a lot of reason to take bets on the long side."
In Tuesday's results, Monsanto Co
Education provider Apollo Group
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Dont see mkt going anywhere now; like Bharat Forge: Dipen