By DAMIAN J. TROISE
AP Business Writer
Stocks turned mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street Tuesday as traders review the latest batch of economic reports after the year-end holidays.
The S&P 500 was mostly unchanged as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 272 points, or 0.8%, to 36,856 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 1.5%.
Banks were among the biggest gainers as bond yields again moved higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.68% from 1.63% late Monday. JPMorgan Chase rose 3.7%.
U.S. crude oil prices rose 1.4% and helped lift energy stocks. Exxon Mobil rose 3.8%.
A wide range of industrial and communications stocks also gained ground. Health care and technology stocks fell. Pfizer shed 2.7% and Microsoft fell 2%.
Investors have a mix of economic and corporate news to focus on in the first week of the new year as they try to gauge economic growth with the virus pandemic and persistently rising inflation.
The job market will be a major focus for investors going forward. Investors are anticipating the Labor Department’s jobs report for December, which will be released Friday. On Tuesday, the agency’s monthly Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed that a record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs in November, a sign of confidence and more evidence that the U.S. job market is bouncing back strongly from last year’s coronavirus recession.
“Markets are going to be trying to look through the year,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. “Right now, markets are cautiously confident.”
OPEC and allied oil-producing countries plan to stick with their road map to slowly restore cuts in output made during the depths of the pandemic, including adding 400,000 barrels per day in February.
Some sectors of the economy are still struggling, especially with supply chain problems. Growth in manufacturing slowed in December to an 11-month low, according to The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers. The organization will release its December report for the service sector on Thursday.
Investors are also anticipating the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting in December, set for release on Wednesday. The central bank plans to hasten the withdrawal of its support for the markets and economy in the face of rising inflation. It will speed up its withdrawal of bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low, and investors are closely watching the Fed for any signals on when it will eventually raise its benchmark interest rate.
“The big question is how worried is the Fed about inflation,” McMillan said. “We’re really on the cusp of seeing how the Fed is going to move and the minutes will be informative about that.”
Walgreens, Constellation Brands and Conagra report their latest quarterly earnings on Thursday.
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