By ALEX VEIGA
AP Business Writer
Stock indexes are mixed on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday, placing the market within striking distance of another record high as investors close out their positions for 2021.
The S&P 500 was up 0.1% as of 3:45 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index is coming off an all-time high on Monday, when it posted its fourth straight gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% and the Nasdaq was down 0.4%.
Some 66% of the companies in the S&P 500 were up, but a slide in technology, health care and communication stocks outweighed gains in industrial firms, banks and elsewhere in the market. Small company stocks also fell, pulling the Russell 2000 index 0.2% lower.
“We did have four straight days of upward movement,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “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.
Technology companies, which did well on Monday, led the decliners in the S&P 500. Graphics chip maker Nvidia fell 1.5%.
Health care and communication services stocks also weighed on the market. Pfizer fell 2.1% and Moderna dropped 2.4%.
Industrial companies, banks and household goods makers were among the better performers. Boeing rose 1.7%, Synchrony Financial was 0.9% higher, and Campbell Soup gained 2.5%.
Airline stocks recovered some of their losses from this month. American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines were up around 2%.
The major indexes posted gains last week as fears ebbed about the potential impact of the COVID-19 omicron variant. 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. While 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 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 day before. 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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