By ALEX VEIGA – AP Business Writer
A late drop pulled the major indices in the red on Wall Street on Thursday, leaving the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slightly below the records they set a day earlier. The benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.3%. The Dow Jones and the Nasdaq each fell 0.2%. Trading was relatively calm, with many investors closing their positions for the year. Cruise lines fell after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended passengers avoid cruises, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Crude oil prices edged up. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.51%.
THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
Stocks rose slightly on Wall Street on Thursday afternoon, as gains in healthcare and communications companies offset the pullback in technology and other sectors.
The S&P 500 Index was up 0.1% at 3:19 p.m. EST, a day after hitting its last all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which also set a record on Wednesday, was up 0.1%, while the Nasdaq was up 0.3%. Trading was relatively calm, with many investors closing their positions for the year.
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Stocks in health care and communications services accounted for a significant portion of the gains. Pfizer gained 1% and Twitter climbed 4.8% for the biggest gain of the S&P 500.
Businesses that depend on consumer spending have also grown, which has also helped lift the market. The target has increased by 2.5%.
Technology and energy stocks, among the top performing sectors in 2021, have fallen. Advanced Micro Devices slipped 1.3% and oil and gas company APA Corp. fell 2.7%.
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.
Investors received some good news to end the year. the the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits has fallen below 200,000, further proof that the labor market remains strong in the aftermath 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.
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.
Cruise lines fell Thursday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended passengers avoid cruises, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Norwegian Cruise Line slipped 2.2% and Carnival fell 1.1%.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill fell slightly to 1.51% from 1.54% the day before.
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