NEW YORK – Stocks ended November on a down note Tuesday, notching their first monthly losses since August.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 46 points. It had been down as many as 110 points earlier in the day. The index pared most of its losses after President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers promised to seek a compromise before the end of the year on extending Bush-era tax cuts.
Extending the cuts would motivate investors to hold stocks since they wouldn't be subject to higher capital gains taxes next year. It would also encourage companies to continue paying dividends, which are taxed at a more favorable rate.
The Dow ended November with a loss of 1 percent. It had rallied through September and October on hopes that a bond-buying program by the Federal Reserve would boost the economy.
The Dow reached its highest point of the year on Nov. 5, two days after the Fed announced its $600 billion economic stimulus plan. Stocks have fallen since then on worries about Europe's debt troubles. Ireland on Sunday became the second European country after Greece to require a bailout this year.
The euro briefly fell below $1.30 for the first time since mid-September after investors sold off government bonds from Spain, Portugal and Italy. The bailout of Ireland's banks hasn't been enough to assuage worries that other weak European countries will also need to be rescued.
John Briggs, a fixed income analyst at RBS, said the concerns about weak members of the euro zone are spreading faster than governments can react.
"It's becoming more of a system-wide issue and the currency decline continues to accelerate day after day," he said. "Until we get some kind of systemic response, it's likely to continue."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 46.47, or 0.4 percent, to close at 11,006.02.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 7.21 or 0.6 percent, to 1,180.55. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 26.99, or 1.1 percent, to 2,498.23.
The S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent in November, the Nasdaq 0.4 percent.
Economic reports Tuesday did not present a clear picture of where the economy was headed. The Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller index showed that home prices are falling faster in the nation's largest cities. However, the Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence jumped to a five-month high in November.
In corporate news, Google Inc. fell 4.5 percent after European regulators launched an antitrust probe into the online search giant.
Bank of America Corp. lost 3.2 percent on fears that Wikileaks may release copies of the bank's internal documents. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, told Forbes magazine that his group will release thousands of documents from a major U.S. bank early next year.
BofA had the largest drop among the 30 companies that make up the Dow. Caterpillar Inc.'s gain of 1.1 percent was the largest.
The dollar rose 0.6 percent against an index of six other heavily traded currencies.
Bond prices rose, pushing their yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.80 percent from 2.83 percent Monday.
Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 4.7 billion shares.