The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) shed a modest 25 points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. Dow Jones component Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) fell 0.7% alongside its index after the SEC requested the company investigate its Russian operations. Other tech stocks surged, including Russia's Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX)and Nuance Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN).
Consumer confidence disappoints
Perhaps contributing to the Dow Jones' drop, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan initial consumer sentiment index for March came in at 79.9, below economists' expectations of an even 82. While the survey is not considered to be among the most important indicators, the finding does suggest that the U.S. consumer is feeling less confident about the economy than economists had believed. A higher reading may have indicated a greater willingness on the part of consumers to go out and spend, boosting corporate profits and leading the market higher. A disappointing reading isn't a major blow to the market by any means, but it is not a positive sign.
Cisco opens investigation
Bloomberg reported that networking specialist Cisco had opened an investigation into its Russian (and neighboring countries') operations at the behest of the SEC. Ultimately, there could be some bribery-related issues, and Cisco may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Still, Cisco said it does not believe that the results of the investigation will have a material effect on its finances. Nevertheless, it does leave Cisco open to a negative outcome, and it highlights the company's dependence on foreign markets.
Yandex bounces back
Shares of Russian search giant Yandex were up 3% early in the session, though there weren't any major news items affecting the stock.
Yandex's surge may have simply been a bounce off the company's recent lows. As a Russian stock, the ongoing tensions in Ukraine have weighed heavily on Yandex; even with Friday's rally, shares are still down more than 20% in the last three months. A resolution of the Ukrainian situation could send shares of Yandex sharply higher to levels seen in December.
Nuance Communications' shares rose more than 4% early in the session. Just before 11 a.m. EDT, the stock spiked sharply to the upside, though it wasn't immediately apparent what was causing the move higher. Activist investor Carl Icahn has purchased almost one-fifth of the company in recent months.