U.S. stocks closed modestly lower Wednesday, with the Dow industrials and Nasdaq Composite retreating from all-time highs set a day earlier.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
ended 32.66 points, or 0.2%, lower at 19,941.96, as the 20,000 milestone eluded the benchmark for yet another session. Still, the blue-chip gauge is up 14.4% year to date, having outperformed the broader SP 500 index by more than 3 percentage points.
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The SP 500 index
lost 5.58 points to 2,265.18, a decline of 0.1%, with eight of its 11 main sectors finishing in negative territory. Real-estate stocks sold off sharply, ending 1.3% lower. But it was losses in a much bigger health-care sector that weighed on the main indexes.
The Nasdaq Composite Index
declined 12.51 points, or 0.2%, to 5,471.43, weighed down by a decline in biotechnology shares. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF
was down 1.1%.
The market traded in a relatively tight range amid thinning volumes ahead of the December holidays.
Highlighting that muted action, the CBOE Volatility Index
also known as the Wall Street’s “fear gauge” fell to its lowest level in 16 month, below 11 earlier. It settled at 11.30 by late afternoon, suggesting that the market isn’t betting on sharp pullbacks in the SP 500 before the end of the year.
Read: Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ implies that few are prepped for a stock-market shock
Wall Street has been in rally mode since the U.S. presidential election on Nov 8, with investors wagering that the pro-business policies of President-elect Donald Trump will spur faster economic growth.
“The common wisdom today is that the stock market honeymoon will last until the inauguration, and then hit a speed bump. I am not sure it will last that long,” wrote James M. Meyer, chief investment officer at Tower Bridge Advisors in a note to clients.
“Big moves tend to last 6-8 weeks before correcting. That suggests maybe the start of the New Year will be a reality check time,” Meyer added.
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The recent market gains have fueled a rotation from bonds and into stocks, with inflows into equity funds since the election reaching $63 billion last week, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In comparison, stock-fund outflows tallied $151 billion between January and October.
In the latest economic data, sales of previously-owned homes rose 0.7% in November as lean inventory and higher prices continue to choke the housing market. Shares of home builders were among the best performers, with the SP 500 Homebuilding exchange-traded fund
Movers and shakes: Shares in Nike Inc.
finished up 1% after the sportswear maker reported better-than-expected earnings ahead of forecasts. The company is a Dow component and the worst-performing member of the blue-chip index of the year, down 16%.
shares tumbled 5%, a day after it reported first-quarter revenue that missed expectations and delivered a downbeat outlook.
Shares of Finish Line Inc.
sank 8.7% after the athletic shoe retailer reported fiscal third-quarter results that missed expectations and offered a weak outlook.
slid 4.4% despite the recreational vehicle seller beating first-quarter profit and sales forecasts.
dropped 3.3% after the shipping giant late on Tuesday posted a rise in earnings, but missed analyst forecasts.
closed 0.2% lower. The drinks company said it is buying a 54.5% stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa from Anheuser-Busch InBev SA
for $3.15 billion. Shares of Anheuser rose 0.6%.
Shares of Monster Beverage Corp.
rallies 4.2% after Jefferies raised the company’s rating to buy from hold.
Other markets: The dollar slipped against most other major currencies, pulling the ICE Dollar
down from a 14-year high. The index was down 0.3% at 102.96.
were unchanged, at $1,133 an ounce. Oil prices
were 1.4% lower at $52.52 a barrel.
European stock markets closed lower, with liquidity concerns over Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA
pulling the banking sector lower.
Asia markets closed mixed.
—Sara Sjolin contributed to this article.