Stocks Opened Mostly Lower Ahead Factory Data, Fed Minutes

U.S. stocks began mostly lower on Tuesday as investors awaited factory orders data and minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 25.36 points to 13,239.13. The S&P 500 Index was down 3.52 points at 1,415.52. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.02 point to 3,119.72.

In an election-year pitch to middle-class voters, President Barack Obama is denouncing a House Republican budget plan as a “Trojan horse,” warning that it represents “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country” that would hurt the pocketbooks of working families.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) said Tuesday that U.S. sales of its vehicles rose 5% in March over the previous year’s period to 223,418. Car sales were up 8%. 

 AutoNation (NYSE:AN) announced that March retail new vehicle unit sales increased 15 percent compared with the same month of last year and that sales in the first quarter increased 13 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

Chrysler LLC reported a 34% increase in March U.S. sales to 163,381 cars and trucks to notch the auto maker’s best monthly sales tally in four years.

Despite potential antitrust concerns and vocal opposition by some lawmakers and consumer groups, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, two of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, said Monday that federal regulators had approved their $29 billion merger.

One of London’s most prominent bankers was fined 450,000 pounds ($720,000) on Tuesday for passing on inside information in a case that will embarrass his employer JP Morgan Cazenove and which marks a new resolve by authorities to target high-profile figures.

Oil prices fell to near $104 a barrel Tuesday as traders eyed mixed signs about the strength of the global economy. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was down 90 cents to $104.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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