Stocks down but find multifaceted support
The S&P 500 is down for the sixth straight session with a 0.9% decline, although the benchmark index was down 1.8% shortly after the open amid pronounced weakness in technology, growth, and mega-cap stocks.The Nasdaq Composite (-2.3%) and Russell 2000 (-2.3%) are still bearing the brunt of the damage with 2% declines after being down more than 3.5% earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.5%) shows relative outperformance despite a disappointing reaction to Home Depot's (HD 264.09, -11.76, -4.3%) positive earnings results.  Rate angst, profit taking, and interest in value/cyclical stocks in a reopening economy are being attributed to the weakness in growth stocks; the small-cap stocks, meanwhile, appear more in the center of the profit-taking crosshairs. The 10-yr yield touched 1.38% today, but it's back at its unchanged mark at 1.36%. Apple (AAPL 121.81, -4.19, -3.3%), Tesla (TSLA 673.18, -41.50, -5.9%), and the semiconductor stocks are dragging the S&P 500 information technology (-2.1%) and consumer discretionary (-2.2%) sectors to the laggard positions right now. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is down 2.9%. Conversely, the energy (+0.9%), utilities (+0.7%), financials (+0.3%), real estate (+0.3%), and consumer staples (+0.2%) sectors have provided steady support for the S&P 500. Interestingly, today's lows came right before Fed Chair Powell started his semiannual congressional testimony on the economy and monetary policy at 10:00 a.m. ET. Mr. Powell didn't say anything new, suggesting the central bank is committed to its dovish monetary policy stance for the foreseeable future. This has presumably helped alleviate some of the negativity today. Other positive factors today have included technical support just above the S&P 500's 50-day moving average (3796) and the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increasing to 91.3 in February (Briefing.com consensus 91.0) from 88.9 in January.Declining issues outpace advancing issues by nearly a 4:1 margin at the NYSE and a 5:1 margin at the Nasdaq. The CBOE Volatility Index is up 7.2% to 25.14, as investors continue to seek protection against further downside in equities. Reviewing today's economic data:The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased to 91.3 in February (Briefing.com consensus 91.0) from a downwardly revised 88.9 (from 89.3) in January.The key takeaway from the report is that attitudes about current conditions improved for the first time in four months, aided by some improvement in the view of labor market conditions.The FHFA Housing Price Index increased 1.1% in February following a 1.0% increase in January.The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index increased 10.1% in December (Briefing.com consensus 9.8%) following an upwardly revised 9.2% reading in November (from +9.1%).