Mar­ket “tak­ing a breather”

Ma­jor U.S. in­dexes close slightly lower, while oil slips and bonds rise as in­vestors pre­pare for the new year.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Alex Veiga

A day of quiet trad­ing on Wall Street ended Thurs­day with ma­jor U.S. stock in­dexes post­ing slight losses for the sec­ond day in a row.

Banks and en­ergy com­pa­nies led the slide, while high-div­i­dend stocks like util­i­ties, real es­tate in­vest­ment trusts and phone com­pa­nies rose as bond yields fell. The price of U.S. crude oil closed lower.

Small-com­pany stocks fared bet­ter than the rest of the mar­ket, nudg­ing the Russell 2000 slightly higher.

Trad­ing was light ahead of the New Year’s Day hol­i­day.

“The mar­ket is just tak­ing a breather here,” said Jeff Zip­per, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of in­vest­ments for The Pri­vate Client Re­serve of U.S. Bank. “We moved so much in the month of Novem­ber, there may be some profit-tak­ing, maybe po­si­tion­ing for the first quar­ter.”

The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age fell 13.90 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 19,819.78. The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex slipped 0.66 points, or 0.03 per­cent, to 2,249.26 The Nasdaq composite lost 6.47 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 5,432.09.

The Russell 2000, which tracks small com­pa­nies, added 2.35, or 0.2 per­cent, at 1,363.18.

The ma­jor stock mar­ket in­dexes eked out small gains in early trad­ing Thurs­day. But by mid­morn­ing, they drifted mostly lower and re­mained in the red the rest of the day.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note fell to 2.47 per­cent from 2.51 per­cent late Wed­nes­day.

More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Ex­change.

Sears jumped 10 per­cent af­ter the strug­gling re­tailer said it had se­cured a new line of credit. The stock added 82 cents to $9.

New­mont Min­ing climbed 7.6 per­cent, the big­gest gainer in the S&P 500 in­dex. The stock added $2.49 to $35.27.

In­vestors got some fa­vor­able eco­nomic data from the La­bor De­part­ment, which re­ported that fewer Amer­i­cans ap­plied for un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits last week, con­tin­u­ing a nearly two-year trend that sug­gests a solid job mar­ket. Weekly re­quests for job­less aid fell 10,000 to a sea­son­ally ad­justed 265,000. Over the past year, the num­ber of peo­ple col­lect­ing ben­e­fits has fallen al­most 5 per­cent to 2.1 mil­lion.

Bench­mark U.S. crude fell 29 cents to close at $53.77 a bar­rel in New York. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, slipped 8 cents to close at $56.14 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

Mar­kets over­seas were mixed. Ger­many’s DAX fell 0.2 per­cent, while France’s CAC 40 closed 0.2 per­cent lower. Bri­tain’s FTSE 100 ended the day with its sec­ond record-close in two days, trad­ing 0.2 per­cent higher at 7,120.26 points.

Bri­tish stocks have ben­e­fited from a de­cline in the value of the pound against other world cur­ren­cies, which tends to drive up earn­ings for the multi­na­tion­als and en­ergy com­pa­nies that dom­i­nate the in­dex.

Ear­lier in Asia, Ja­pan’s bench­mark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.3 per­cent, while South Korea’s Kospi inched up 0.1 per­cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 per­cent.

In other en­ergy trad­ing, whole­sale gaso­line added a penny to $1.68 a gal­lon and heat­ing oil held steady at $1.70 a gal­lon. Nat­u­ral gas fu­tures fell 10 cents, or 2.5 per­cent, to $3.80 per 1,000 cu­bic feet.

The price of gold rose $17.20, or 1.5 per­cent, to $1,158.10 an ounce. Sil­ver added 18 cents to $16.22 an ounce. Cop­per fell a penny to $2.49 a pound.

In cur­rency trad­ing, the dol­lar fell to 116.65 yen from 117.19 yen late Wed­nes­day. The euro fell to $1.0485 from $1.0407.

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