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Major U.S. stock indexes end nearly flat after early gains evaporate

A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange
The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed Tuesday with a loss of less than 0.1%.
(Associated Press)

A wobbly day on Wall Street ended with a mixed finish for the major stock indexes Tuesday as losses in the technology and healthcare sectors largely offset gains elsewhere in the market.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 gave up an early gain, ending down less than 0.1%. That broke a three-day winning streak. The benchmark index had been up 0.7% earlier in the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite inched down 0.1%, while the Dow Jones industrial average eked out a 0.1% gain.

The market’s modest moves came as investors returned from a three-day holiday weekend. Traders weighed a new report showing more growth in manufacturing as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes in the U.S. but were also looking ahead to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, which is due out Friday.

Expectations that the upcoming jobs report will show a strong increase in hiring in May stoked worries about rising inflation and about how the Federal Reserve may respond to it. That helped push bond yields broadly higher Tuesday, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

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The S&P 500 slipped 2.07 points to 4,202.04. The index is coming off its fourth straight monthly increase. The Dow inched up 45.86 points to 34,575.31, while the Nasdaq edged down 12.26 points to 13,736.48. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index climbed 25.77 points, or 1.1%, to 2,294.74. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

Stock trading has been bumpy in recent weeks as investors moved past a stellar corporate earnings season and focused on the tug-of-war between the economic recovery and rising inflation. The concern is that the global recovery could be hampered if governments and central banks have to withdraw stimulus to fight rising prices.

Banks were among the biggest gainers as bond yields ticked higher, which enables banks to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.61% from 1.58% on Friday. Bank of America rose 1.3%.

Energy stocks were the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Crude oil prices jumped more than 2%, helping to send producers higher. Exxon Mobil rose 3.6%.

Healthcare and technology companies fell, checking gains elsewhere in the market. Abbott Laboratories slumped 9.3%, the biggest loss in the S&P 500. Microsoft slid 0.9%.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing picked up again in May. The institute’s manufacturing index came in at 61.2 last month, much better than the 60.6 expected by economists surveyed by FactSet. The growth in manufacturing came despite supply shortages that have plagued many manufacturers for weeks, particularly those that require semiconductors. It’s the latest piece of economic data that has shown the U.S. economy growing quickly.

AMC Entertainment jumped 22.7% after the movie theater operator announced a stock sale. AMC, whose stock is up more than 1,000% this year, is among a handful of companies such as GameStop that gained the attention of online retail investors this year.

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