S&P Misses Record High, Stocks Pare Losses

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- S&P 500 failed to reach a record high closing, but stocks pared losses to close near the flatline as U.S. housing demand outpaced supply and worries about Cyprus lost steam.

"It's really just been the recent consideration that Cyprus is an isolated case," Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer at Sica Wealth Management, said about the late rise in stocks. "Throughout the afternoon there were a handful of rumors ... that the banks were going to open on time, banks were going to open tomorrow and that this was going to be an isolated case."

The S&P 500 closed down 0.06% to 1,562.85 near its all-time high of 1,565 set in October 2007.

Shares of Dollar General dropped 2.4% to $50.95 after the discount retailer announced it would sell 30 million shares in an underwritten secondary public offering, with backing by KKR & Co. .

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.23% to 14,526.16 while the Nasdaq gained 0.12% to 3,256.52.

The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales fell more than expected by 0.4% in February on the back of a downwardly revised 3.8% rise in January; economists were expecting a 0.2% fall. The group said sales dipped last month on constrained inventory that gave buyers limited choices on homes to purchase.

"Only new home construction can genuinely help relieve the inventory shortage, and housing starts need to rise at least 50% from current levels," Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, said in a statement. "Clearer regulatory rules, applied to construction loans for smaller community banks and credit unions, could bring many small-sized builders back into the market."

Apple tumbled 1.96% to $452.08 after the tech giant appeared in a Shanghai court in a lawsuit brought forth by Shanghai's Zhizhen Network Technology, which accuses the company of infringing on its patents for voice recognition software in Apple's Siri feature.

Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist of Pension Partners, LLC in New York, NY, said in an email that the market is at risk of a bigger pullback as uncertainties about the future of the Eurozone continue to go unresolved.

"There have been major disconnects in the market since late January, and it appears internally concerns have been building due specifically to Europe," said Gayed. "If the continued collapse in Italy and Spain eventually filters through to global risk-off sentiment, the honey-badger stock market which has not cared about headline risk will be in trouble."

"Treasuries are showing clear fear," he added. "It is only a question of when, not if, that fear filters down to stocks."

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was surging by 19/32, diluting the yield to 1.85%. The dollar was rising 0.46%, according to the U.S. dollar index .