U.S. Stocks Move Broadly Lower to Start Shortened Week

(AP) -
(Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Stocks moved broadly lower on Wall Street in midday trading Monday as the market gave back some of its recent gains following a record-setting run.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen five straight weeks, notching multiple all-time highs along the way. It’s on track to end the month about 2.6% higher, its fourth consecutive monthly gain.

Technology and communication services companies led the selling Monday. Chipmaker Nvidia slid 1.7% and Facebook lost 1.6%.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending also moved lower. AutoZone dropped 1.4% and Norwegian Cruise Line slid 1.3%.

Homebuilders fell after a report on pending U.S. home sales in November came in below analysts’ expectations.

Energy stocks were the only sector to rise as the price of U.S. crude oil rose, extending a four-week winning streak. Helmerich & Payne climbed 2.5%.

Despite the downbeat start to the shortened week, the S&P 500 is on pace to close out 2019 with its best year since 2013.

A truce in the 17-month U.S.-China trade war and positive signs for the economy have helped keep investors in a buying mood. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times. The central bank appears set to keep them low for the near future.

Still, as the market prepares to close out a strong year of gains this week, uncertainty remains over the final details of a “Phase 1” trade deal between Washington and Beijing, which U.S. officials say will be signed in early January. Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, and it’s unclear how much impact it will have if the two sides are unable to resolve remaining differences.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 0.5% as of 11:44 a.m., Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 152 points, or 0.5%, to 28,492. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.7%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.3%.

DASHED EXPECTATIONS: Homebuilders fell broadly following a report showing that U.S. home sales in November fell short of analysts’ forecasts. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its pending home sales index, which measures the number of purchase contracts signed, rose 1.2% last month to 108.5. Analysts had expected a 1.4% gain, according to FactSet.

Hovnanian Enterprises led the slide in homebuilder shares, falling 3.7%.

DEAL IN DOUBT: Shares in iHeartMedia dropped 1.3% after the New York Post reported that the Department of Justice may block the purchase of the radio station operator by Liberty Media.

WHAT A RELIEF: Axsome Therapeutics rose 2.9% after the pharmaceutical company reported encouraging results from a trial of its migraine treatment drug.

UPGRADED: Lending Tree climbed 2.9% after analysts at Compass Point upgraded the online loan marketplace operator to “buy.”

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.92% from 1.87% late Friday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 29 cents to $62.01 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 23 cents to $67.10 per barrel.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European stock indexes moved broadly lower. Germany’s DAX fell 0.7%, while the CAC 40 in Paris slid 0.8%. In Britain, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.7%.

Major markets in Asia closed mostly lower.