S&P 500 drops for third straight loss after tech stock rally fades

S&P 500 drops for third straight loss after tech stock rally fades
Christmas decorations adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Another afternoon fizzle for stocks left the Standard & Poor's 500 index with its third straight loss on Tuesday.

The market seemed like it was headed for a gain in the morning, after technology stocks recovered from one of their few stumbles this year. But the tech rally lost momentum as the afternoon went on, and losses for telecom stocks and utilities helped cement the S&P 500's longest losing streak in nearly four months.


The S&P 500 fell 9.87 points, or 0.4%, to 2,629.57. It had been up 0.3% in the morning, and it marked the second straight day where an early rally ended up petering out.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 109.41, or 0.5%, to 24,180.64, and the Nasdaq composite fell 13.15, or 0.2%, to 6,762.21.

The market's ups and downs have come as investors sift through Congress' twin proposals to revamp the tax system. The Senate and House of Representatives are trying to reconcile their respective versions and investors are trying to figure out which industries and companies will come out as winners and losers from it.

Technology companies already pay some of the lowest effective tax rates of companies in the S&P 500, so they have less to gain from the proposal. Tech stocks in the S&P 500 began to stumble last week as expectations ramped up for the tax overhaul and as investors shifted into companies that stand to benefit most from lower rates, such as financial companies.

Chip makers and internet companies led the market on Tuesday, and technology stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.2%. Micron Technology rose $1.31, or 3.3%, to $41.21 for the largest gain in the S&P 500.

The rest of the market, though, was down on Tuesday. Telecom stocks fell 1.8% for the sharpest loss among the index's sectors. Utilities, industrial companies and retailers were also weak.

Edison International slumped $10.26, or 12.8%, to $70 for the biggest loss in the S&P 500. Wildfires are raging outside Los Angeles, and investors are guessing the damage could result in losses for the company's Southern California Edison electric utility subsidiary.

In the bond market, Treasury yields fell as bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.35% from 2.37% late Monday.

The dollar ticked up to 112.62 Japanese yen from 112.60 yen late Monday. The euro dipped to $1.1816 from $1.1855, and the British pound fell to $1.3442 from $1.3471.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 15 cents to settle at $57.62 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 41 cents to $62.86 a barrel in London.

Gold slipped $12.80 to settle at $1,264.90 per ounce, silver lost 31 cents to $16.07 per ounce and copper dropped 14 cents to $2.95 per pound.