Market Snapshot: Stocks slide for second day as Wall Street closes out a banner year

Market Snapshot: Stocks slide for second day as Wall Street closes out a banner year

31 Dec    Finance News

U.S. stocks edged lower Tuesday amid profit-taking on low volumes ahead of the New Year holiday on Wednesday.

Investors were also parsing an announcement by President Trump that he will sign a limited U.S.-China trade deal on Jan. 15.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.24% fell 80 points, or 0.3%, to 28,384, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.21% retreated 6 points to 3,215. The Nasdaq Composite index COMP, -0.11% lost 8 points to 8,934, down 0.1%.

The declines come on the heels of losses Monday, with the Dow  falling 183.12 points, or 0.6%, to end at 28,462.14, while the S&P 500  lost 18.73 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 3,221.29. The Nasdaq Composite gave up 60.62 points, or 0.7%, ending at 8,945.99.

The pullback has left the S&P 500 with a year-to-date gain of 28.3%. If that holds, it would mark the benchmark’s strongest calendar-year advance since a 29.6% gain in 2013. It would take a close above 3,248.87 on Tuesday to top the 2013 performance, which would make for the best year since a 31% rise in 1997.

Read: The S&P 500 may be blowing its chance to have its best year since 1997

What’s driving the market?

Stocks drifted lower despite positive news on the trade front, with President Trump announcing on Twitter than he plans to sign a “phase-one” U.S.-China trade deal at the White House on Jan. 15.

Earlier Tuesday, White House advisor Peter Navarro said that the deal was “in the bank” and that the Trump administration was just waiting to review a Chinese translation of the 86-page agreement.

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Stocks moved lower as investors appeared to be selling the news after stocks had posted aggressive gains since President Trump first announced the agreement in October.

“What’s striking is the sell-the-fact reaction in stocks, which suggests that this ‘skinny deal’ is finally fully priced into the markets,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at XM, in a note.

See: Trump says U.S. and China to sign ‘phase 1’ trade deal on Jan. 15

Analysts also pointed to year-end dynamics, along with the superlative returns already seen as reasons for weakness in recent days. “There’s a lot of profit taking going on, as well as tax-loss harvesting,” Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments told MarketWatch. “The reason we’re having an atypical end of the year is because we’ve had such an atypical run leading up to it.”

“There’s very low volume, so I’d advise not to draw too many conclusions” from stock-market action in recent days, Buchanan added.

Meanwhile, Chinese data indicated easing trade tensions lifted demand and boosted factory production. China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index remained unchanged at 50.2 in December, indicating an expansion in activity for a second straight month after contracting for six months.

In U.S. economic news, the October Case-Shiller home price index showed home prices rising by 3.3% in twenty major metropolitan areas across the U.S., up from a 3.2% rise in September.

The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell slightly to 126.5 in December, from a revised reading of 126.8 in November.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Nvidia Corp. NVDA, +0.38%  could be in focus after Benchmark analyst Ruben Roy upgraded the stock to ‘buy,’ and raised his price target on the stock to $275 from $240 — 17% above its Monday closing price of $232.32. Shares rose 0.4% Tuesday.

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Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, +0.40%  and Postmates, a food delivery startup, filed a lawsuit in federal court late Monday, seeking an injunction to block California State’s new law that forces these companies to classify their drivers as full-time employees, rather than contractors. Uber shares were up 0.4%.

Shares of McDermott International Inc. MDR, -12.68%  were down 7.5% Tuesday following a Wall Street Journal report late Monday that the energy services company was in talks with lenders to file for bankruptcy.

How are other markets trading?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +1.02%  was little changed at 1.91%.

In commodities markets, the price of oil was in retreat. West Texas Intermediate Crude CLG20, -0.54%  for February delivery declined 32 cents, or 0.5% to trade at $61.39 a barrel. In precious metals, the price of an ounce of gold GCG20, +0.36%  rose $6.10, or 0.4%, to $1524.10.

The value of the U.S. dollar fell 0.4% relative to a basket of its major trading partners, according to the ICE US Dollar index DXY, -0.29%.

In Asia overnight, stocks closed mixed, with China’s CSI 300 000300, +0.37%  gaining 0.4%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.46%  fell 0.5%.

In Europe, stocks were trading mostly lower, according to the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.06%. , which was down 0.1%.

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