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Stocks end mixed, breaking 4-day winning streak for S&P 500

The New York Stock Exchange
After the S&P 500 hit an all-time high Monday, markets wobbled Tuesday and the index closed slightly lower.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

A wobbly day of trading on Wall Street left stock indexes mixed Tuesday, pulling the Standard & Poor’s 500 index just below its latest record high.

The benchmark index slipped 0.1% after wavering between modest gains and losses. The slight loss snapped a four-day winning streak for the index, which set an all-time high on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.6%.

Roughly 60% of the companies in the S&P 500 rose, but a slide in technology, healthcare and communication stocks outweighed gains in industrial firms, makers of household goods and companies in other sectors. Small-company stocks also fell, pulling the Russell 2000 index 0.7% lower.

“We did have four straight days of upward movement,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. “Investors are keeping their fingers tightly crossed that we will end up with a positive ‘Santa Claus’ rally.”

That’s what Wall Street calls a rally in the final five days in December and the first two trading days in January. Since 1950, the S&P 500 index has risen an average of 1.3% during those seven days. If the Santa rally doesn’t arrive, some traders see it as an omen that stocks may fall in the upcoming year.

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The global economy hasn’t experienced anything like this for decades.

The S&P 500 slipped 4.84 points to 4,786.35. The Dow rose 95.83 points to 36,398.21. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 89.54 points to 15,781.72. The Russell 2000 gave up 14.95 points, ending at 2,246.51.

The major U.S. stock indexes are on pace to close out 2021 with strong gains. The S&P 500 is up 27.4% with three trading days to go this year.

Technology companies, which did well Monday, led the decliners in the S&P 500. Graphics chip maker Nvidia fell 2%.

Healthcare and communication services stocks also weighed on the market. Pfizer fell 2% and Moderna dropped 2.2%. Twitter fell 2%.

Industrial companies and makers of household goods were among the better performers. Boeing added 1.5% and Campbell Soup rose 2.8% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

Airline stocks recovered some of their losses from this month. American Airlines rose 2%, United Airlines gained 1.5% and Delta Air Lines closed 1.6% higher.

The major indexes posted gains last week as fears ebbed about the potential effect of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. However, much is still uncertain about Omicron, which is spreading extremely quickly and leading to a return to pandemic restrictions in some places.

The variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain throughout the world. Although virus-related lockdowns and travel restrictions remain a big concern, most big investors have closed out their positions for 2021 and are likely to hold their ground until next week.

The market got some encouraging news Monday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the amount of time an infected person would need to isolate if they tested positive.

Oil prices continued to climb Tuesday, adding to their gains from the previous day. U.S. crude rose 0.5%.

Bond yields mostly edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was unchanged at 1.48%.


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