Stocks Lower Even as NASDAQ Nears Record

Stocks are mostly lower on Wall Street in morning trading Wednesday, giving back some of their gains from a record-setting climb a day earlier.

The S&P 500 was down 0.4% a day after setting an all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped below 30,000, a day after crossing that milestone for the first time. Financial, communications and health care companies pulled the market lower, outweighing gains in technology and elsewhere.

Treasury yields were mostly lower. The price of crude oil rose was up about 1%. Markets in Europe were mixed. Asian markets closed lower.

The Dow was down 140 points, or 0.5%, to 29,904 as of 10:47 a.m. Eastern time. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was up 0.2%, rising above the closing high it reached in early September. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. They will be open for half the day on Friday, closing at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stocks have been pushing higher this month, driving the S&P 500 up by more than 10%, as investors have grown more hopeful that the development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments will help pave the way for the economy to recover next year.

This week, traders have also been encouraged by signs that the transition of power in the U.S. to President-elect Joe Biden has begun. Wall Street is also welcoming Biden’s selection of former Fed chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, analysts say.

Encouraging study results this month from drugmakers working on coronavirus vaccines and treatments have tempered lingering concerns over rising virus cases in the U.S., as well as in Asia and other parts of the world, and new government restrictions on businesses aimed at limiting the spread.

But signs that the pandemic continues to weigh on the economy remain in the forefront. On Wednesday, the government said the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 778,000.

Treasury yields mostly fell, a sign of caution in the market. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped to 0.86% from 0.87% late Tuesday.

Gap led the way lower in the S&P 500, falling 18.4%, after the clothing retailer’s third-quarter results fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts.

Nordstrom climbed 17.2% after the department store chain’s earnings improved in the third quarter, even as sales missed analysts’ forecasts.

Traders bid HP shares 4.9% higher after the company delivered a solid quarterly report card.

In European markets, Germany’s DAX was down 0.1%, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.7%.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.5%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.6%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3%.

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