Stocks Retreat From Recent Highs

U.S. stocks opened lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 retreating after a three-session rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 93.96 points to 13,145.17. The S&P 500 Index declined 9.28 points to 1,400.47. The Nasdaq Composite shed 23.62 points to 3,054.70.

Permits for U.S. homebuilding neared a 3-1/2 year high in February. New building permits surged 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units last month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. It was the highest rate since October 2008 and far exceeded economists’ expectations for an advance to a 690,000-unit pace from January’s 682,000-unit rate.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Europe was only at the initial stages of a long and difficult path toward fiscal sustainability and warned heavily indebted countries not to resort to draconian measures to fix their budgets, according to congressional testimony released on Monday.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has begun a new round of staff cuts in its trading and investment banking divisions, three sources familiar with the matter said, a sign of continued cutbacks on Wall Street. The job cuts follow 2,400 positions Goldman eliminated last year, and further reductions are possible as the company continues to reduce costs to raise profitability.

Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE:JEF) said Tuesday its first-quarter profit fell to $77.1 million, or 33 cents a share, from $87.3 million, or 42 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The investment bank’s net revenue rose to $758.1 million, from just under $742 million.

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