NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - U.S. stocks headed slightly lower on Wednesday, with concerns about the economy and earnings offsetting optimism over Citigroup Inc.'s plan to sell $12 billion in debt and upbeat results at Circuit City Stores Inc.
Fueling concerns about both the economy and earnings, shipment giant UPS lowered its outlook, taking analysts by surprise. A government report showing wholesale sales tumbled 0.8% in February also weighed on sentiment.
After rising to an early high of 12,621, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was last down 13 points to 12,563, with 21 out of its 30 components in the red.
Among rising Dow components, Citigroup Inc. gained 1% to $24, following a report in the Wall Street Journal that Citi plans to sell $12 billion in debt for nearly 90 cents on the dollar. .
Also supporting the blue-chip average, Boeing Co. gained 4%. The aircraft manufacturer said that a delay in delivery of its 787 Dreamliner to later this year doesn't change its 2008 guidance.
The S&P 500 dropped 4.3 points to 1,361, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 10 points to 2,338.
Meanwhile, Atlanta-based UPS cited a weakening U.S. economy for a decline in business, with higher fuel prices also denting its expected results. .
Circuit City Stores Inc. also noted challenging conditions, but surprisingly reported a fourth-quarter profit.
Gold futures gained, with the contract for June delivery up $3.90 to $917.90 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. .
A weekly survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association found mortgage applications rose a seasonally adjusted 5.4% last week compared with the final week of March, with the four-week moving average for all loans tracked by the MBA up 1.8%. .
In overseas trade, European shares flip-flopped through the day and recently were down 0.6%. .
Asian markets slipped into the red as worries about the U.S. economy and global credit markets took hold. .
On Tuesday, U.S. stock indexes fell amid disheartening quarterly earnings.
By Kate Gibson