U.S. stocks fall as investors turn cautious following records

Stocks gave up an early gain and closed modestly lower on Wall Street on Tuesday, giving the S&P 500 its first loss in four days.

The 0.2% fall Tuesday came a day after major indexes had notched their latest all-time highs.

The S&P 500 decreased 8.3 points, or 0.2%, to 3,727. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 68 points, or 0.2%, to 30,335. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.4%, to 12,850.

Smaller company stocks were taking some of the biggest losses, sending the Russell 2000 index 1.9% lower. The index is still on track to end the month 7% higher.

Investors shifted money away from technology companies, which have among some of the biggest winners since the pandemic began. Industrial and financial stocks also fell broadly.

Those losses outweighed gains in health care stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Treasury yields were mostly higher, though, a sign of confidence in the economy.

The market’s pullback follows a strong, record-shattering run on Wall Street in recent weeks amid optimism that coronavirus vaccinations will pave the way in coming months for the economy to escape from the pandemic’s grip.

Among the companies losing ground Tuesday was Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., which fell $2.19, or 2.6%, to $83.29 per share, after the shopping mall operator completed its $3 billion purchase of an 80% stake in rival Taubman Centers.

The market’s pullback follows a strong, record-shattering run on Wall Street in recent weeks amid optimism that coronavirus vaccinations will pave the way in coming months for the economy to escape from the pandemic’s grip. With two days of trading left in 2020, the S&P 500 is up 15.4% this year, while the Nasdaq is up 43.2%.

Wall Street set fresh records on Monday after President Donald Trump signed a wide-ranging spending bill that includes $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and reams of other legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. Investors hope that the measures will help tide the economy over until more people get vaccinations and help it through its pandemic-induced slump.

“We’re kind of seeing the same thing we’ve been seeing, the dichotomy between where the financial markets are and where the actual economy is,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.

The recent round of aid from Washington was mostly expected and it would have taken a much bigger package to really make markets jump, he said.

The only other pending set of business from Washington is whether Senate Republicans will pass President Trump’s push to get $2,000 stimulus checksto Americans instead of the current $600. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked Democrats’ push to immediately bring President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks up for a vote, saying the chamber would “begin a process” to address the issue.

Treasury yields moved higher Tuesday, a sign of confidence in the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.93% from 0.92% late Monday.

Trading has been thin as a tumultuous 2020 draws to a close. The market will be closed for New Year’s Day Friday.

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