Stocks end mixed on Wall Street after early gain evaporates

A wobbly day on Wall Street ended with a mixed finish for the major stock indexes Tuesday as losses in technology and health care companies offset gains elsewhere in the market.

The S&P 500 gave up an early gain, slipping less than 0.1%. That broke a three-day winning streak. The benchmark index had been up 0.7% in the early going. The tech-heavy Nasdaq inched 0.1% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.1% gain.

The market’s modest moves came as investors returned from a three-day holiday weekend. Traders weighed a new report showing more growth in manufacturing as the coronavirus pandemic wanes in the U.S., but were also looking ahead to the government’s monthly jobs report update on Friday.

Expectations that the upcoming Labor Department report will show a strong increase in hiring in May stoked worries about rising inflation, and how the Federal Reserve may respond to it. That helped push bond yields broadly higher Tuesday, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

“The market will focus on jobs this week and the reason is so will the Fed,” Krosby said. “This is a market that wants to assess or ascertain how the Fed is going to respond to more inflation.”

The S&P 500 dropped 2.07 points to 4,202.04. The index is coming off its fourth straight monthly increase. The Dow gained 45.86 points to 34,575.31, while the Nasdaq fell 12.26 points to 13,736.48. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index added 25.77 points, or 1.1%, to 2,294.74. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

Stock trading has been bumpy in recent weeks as investors moved past a stellar corporate earnings season and focused on the tug-of-war between the economic recovery and rising inflation. The concern is that the global recovery could be hampered if governments and central banks have to withdraw stimulus to combat rising prices.

Banks were among the biggest gainers as bond yields ticked higher, which allows them to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.61% from 1.58% Friday. Bank of America rose 1.3%.

Energy stocks were the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Crude oil prices jumped more than 2%, helping to send producers higher. Exxon Mobil rose 3.6%.

“The economy continues to expand, continues to rebound,” Krosby said. “Americans are traveling by car, traveling by air, and that’s reflected in the oil prices.”

Health care and technology companies fell, checking gains elsewhere in the market. Abbott Laboratories slumped 9.3% for the biggest loss in the S&P 500. Microsoft slid 0.9%.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing picked up again in May. The ISM’s manufacturing index came in at 61.2 last month, much better than the 60.6 expected by economists surveyed by FactSet.

The growth in manufacturing came despite supply shortages that have plagued many manufacturers for weeks, particularly those who require semiconductors. It’s the latest piece of economic data that has shown the U.S. economy growing quickly out of the coronavirus pandemic.

AMC Entertainment jumped 22.7% after the movie theater operator announced a stock sale. AMC, whose stock is up more than 1,000% this year, is one of a handful of companies that gained the attention of a group of online retail investors earlier this year, along with companies like GameStop.

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