Stocks Indexes End Mostly Lower After Early Rally Fades

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks closed slightly lower on Wall Street Wednesday after an early rally fueled by optimism over the next round of trade talks between the U.S. and China lost momentum toward the end of the day.

The wobbly finish extended the S&P 500 index’s losing streak to a fourth straight day, though the market is still on track to end the month with solid gains.

Losses in health care stocks, consumer goods makers and utilities offset solid gains in technology sector companies.

Stocks climbed in the morning after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that a trade deal between the two nations was “about 90%” done during recent negotiations. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G-20 summit this weekend and investors hope that talks will yield progress toward an agreement to resolve the costly trade war.

The S&P 500 index dropped 3.60 points, or 0.1%, to 2,913.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.40 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,536.82. The index had been up as much as 111 points.

The Nasdaq composite, heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 25.25 points, or 0.3%, to 7,909.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 3.26 points, or 0.2%, to 1,517.78.

The market is on track to end June with solid gains that have reversed most of the losses from a big sell-off in May. Investors pushed stocks higher through much of this month as they welcomed indications from the Federal Reserve that it will cut interest rates to keep the economy growing. The trend sent the benchmark S&P 500 index to an all-time high last week.

Health care stocks were the biggest drag on the market Wednesday, with drugmakers leading the way lower for the sector. Eli Lilly dropped 3.5% and Nektar Therapeutics slid 3.8%.

Consumer products companies were also big decliners. General Mills slumped after the packaged foods maker reported weak sales trends in North America. The stock was the biggest loser in the S&P 500, falling 4.5%.

Even after losing some strength, technology companies led the gainers. Micron Technology notched the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after the chipmaker forecast improved demand for smartphone chips the rest of the year. The stock jumped 13.3%. Other chipmakers also rose. Advanced Micro Devices climbed 3.7% and Nvidia gained 5.1%.

Energy stocks rose along with the price of U.S. crude oil. Hess gained 5.1% and ConocoPhillips added 5%.

Benchmark crude oil rose $1.55 to settle at $59.38 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose $1.44 to close at $66.49 a barrel.

Major stock indexes in Europe were mostly lower Wednesday.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.05% from 1.99% late Tuesday.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline rose 10 cents to $1.97 per gallon. Heating oil climbed 5 cents to $1.97 per gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $2.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $1.60 to $1,413.30 per ounce, silver rose 99 cents to $15.28 per ounce and copper fell 3 cents to $2.71 per pound.

The dollar rose to 107.83 Japanese yen from 107.12 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1370 from $1.1373.