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Stocks close mostly lower, but Nasdaq inches up to a new high

Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange.
Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange. Industrial and healthcare stocks were the biggest drag on the market in early trading Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

Stocks closed mostly lower on Wall Street on Tuesday, though solid gains by Apple, Facebook and other tech heavyweights helped nudge the Nasdaq composite index to another all-time high.

The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.3%, losing some ground after two straight weekly gains. Roughly 80% of companies in the index fell. Industrial and healthcare stocks were among the S&P 500’s biggest decliners. Household goods makers also weighed on the index, offsetting gains in communication services firms, technology stocks and a mix of companies that rely on consumer spending.

The pullback in stocks came as traders returned from the Labor Day holiday weekend to a relatively light week of economic data. The last big economic snapshot, the August jobs report, came in weaker than expected Friday, but stocks slipped only modestly on the news.

“We’re still kind of digesting Friday’s weak job number and the potential impact that might have with the economy,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.

The S&P 500 fell 15.40 points to 4,520.03. The index remains within 0.4% of the all-time high it set Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 269.09 points, or 0.8%, to 35,100, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq rose 10.81 points, or 0.1%, to 15,374.33, its fourth consecutive record high.

Small-company stocks also fell broadly, and a rise in bond yields helped out bank stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.37% from 1.32% on Friday. Bank of America rose 0.7%.

Energy prices fell broadly. The price of benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 1.4%.

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Traders are back from their summer holidays, and volatility is expected to pick up in the coming days and weeks. Stocks churned higher throughout the summer, helped by stronger-than-expected earnings from big companies as well as guidance from the Federal Reserve that the central bank plans to keep interest rates low.

The market had only a mild negative reaction to the August jobs report, which showed that employers hired fewer workers than expected. The report came out Friday, just ahead of the Monday expiration of extended unemployment benefits, which had been in place since March 2020, when the pandemic started.

Investors have a few economic reports on tap for the week.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department will report on job openings for July. The job market is still struggling to recover from the pandemic. Employers have been finding it difficult to fill openings amid lingering health fears, and the resurgent virus could make it even more difficult.

On Friday, investors will get another update on inflation when the Labor Department reports on inflation at the wholesale level before costs are passed on to consumers.


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