Light Stock Trades Lead to Losses in Last Minutes | News, Sports, Jobs


The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed slightly below their all-time highs on Thursday as stocks gave up an early gain and fell in the closing minutes of trading on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 Index slipped 0.3% per day after hitting a record high. The Dow Jones, which also set a new high on Wednesday, fell 0.2%. The Nasdaq also slipped 0.2%.

Most of Wall Street is on vacation or has closed its positions for 2021, which means trading is extremely light. Investors are unlikely to make any significant moves until next week with the start of the new year.

“In general, more than any news from the last few days, people really focus on what’s going to happen in the next 12 months,” said Alonso Garza, Global Investments Specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank.

The S&P 500 lost 14.33 points to 4,778.73 and the Dow Jones slipped 90.55 points to 36,398.08. The Nasdaq lost 24.65 points to 15,741.56. Smaller company stocks also weakened slightly, although the decline left the Russell 2000 Index barely changed. The index slipped 0.45 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,248.79.

Major stock indexes are set to end December with solid gains, closing a record year for the market. The S&P 500 is heading for a gain of over 27% for 2021. That would be its best performance since 2019, another landmark year for the market.

A wave of consumer demand fueled by the reopening of the economy has boosted corporate profits more than expected this year, helping to keep investors in a buying mood. The Federal Reserve has also helped by keeping interest rates low, making borrowing more affordable for businesses and consumers.

The market gains came despite numerous economic challenges, including rising inflation, disruptions to the global supply chain, and outbreaks of more contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Investor concerns over the omicron variant have eased in recent weeks after researchers said it appeared to cause less severe symptoms and President Joe Biden avoided announcing travel or other restrictions that could weigh on on economic activity. Still, markets are uncertain about the impact of omicron, which is spreading rapidly and quickly becoming the dominant variant.

Tech companies were a big part of the late afternoon drop. Micron Technology led the industry’s decline, falling 2.4% after revealing that the release of its memory chip was hampered by a lockdown in the Chinese city of Xi’an intended to contain the omicron coronavirus variant.

Energy stocks and a range of companies that rely on consumer spending also weighed on the market. The oil and gas company APA Corp. lost 3%. Tesla slipped 1.5% after announcing the recall of some Model 3s because a cable from its backup camera could wear out and fail to transmit images to the dashboard console.

Cruise lines fell after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended passengers avoid cruises, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Norwegian Cruise Line slipped 2.6% and Carnival fell 1.3%.

Equities in health care and communications services posted gains. Pfizer rose 1.4% and Twitter climbed 4%.

Investors have received some good news. The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits has fallen below 200,000, further proof that the labor market remains strong in the wake of last year’s coronavirus recession. Wall Street will receive the December jobs report next week.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, an indicator of manufacturing and economic activity, stood at 63.1 for December. That’s slightly better than the 62.0 reading economists were expecting, according to FactSet.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill fell slightly to 1.51% from 1.54% the day before.

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