MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Fight To Avoid Longest Skid Lower In About 3 Months

By Sara Sjolin and Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch, Ryan VlastelicaFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Financial stocks among the weakest; Boeing gives up early gain that came with a plane order

U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, as investors found few catalysts to materially drive shares in either direction in what is typically one of the lowest-volume weeks of the year.

Continue Reading Below

The indexes are coming off a two-day streak of slight declines. If the Dow closes down for a third straight session, that will mark its longest such streak since September.

Despite that, major indexes are on track to close out December with yet another positive month--possibly marking the first time global stocks have risen in every month of a calendar year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/global-stocks-could-make-history-this-month-by-refusing-to-fall-2017-12-08)--as well as strong gains for 2017 overall.

What are stock indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.6 points to 24,750. The S&P 500 added 2 points to 2,682. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6 points to 6,942. All three were up less than 0.1% on the day.

Activity remained light, and Tuesday was the lowest-volume day of 2017, not including shortened sessions. Overall, volumes in 2017 have been anemic, with average daily trading throughout the year coming in at a three-year low (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-trading-volume-hit-a-three-year-low-in-2017-amid-near-absent-volatility-2017-12-21).

The market was broadly higher on Wednesday, though the gains were mostly slight. Nine of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors were higher on the day, though most were up 0.1% or less. Real estate stocks rose 0.4%, while tech names were up 0.2%. Financial stocks dropped 0.2% on the day.

What's driving the markets?

Markets both in Europe and the U.S. were trading in tight ranges, with many traders likely to remain on vacation until after the New Year's holiday on Monday. Last week, stocks rallied to records after the Republicans passed the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years as well as a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into early 2018.

What are analysts saying?

"There's not much happening today, but the quiet action tells a really important story: it tells you the bulls remain in control, that sellers are few and far between, and that we're waiting for the next big catalyst, which will probably be earnings," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of 50 Park Investments.

"Otherwise, we're seeing the market digest a very strong 2017 rally. It is perfectly normal and healthy to see the market pause after a huge rally, and the absence of selling in and of itself is very healthy."

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Boeing Co.(BA) dipped 0.1% but had gained premarket after the plane manufacturer said Morocco's Royal Air Maroc has ordered four Dreamliners valued at $1.1 billion at list prices.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) dipped 0.3% after reports the company is being sued for slowing down older iPhone models without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

Shares of Pareteum Corp.(TEUM) rose 6.1%, building on a 120% rally from Tuesday, when the provider of telecom software and systems said it has "completed development enabling it to add support of Blockchain technology to its billing and settlement services."

Celgene Corp. (CELG) was downgraded to market perform by analysts at Bernstein. Its shares were down about 0.8%.

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) lost 0.8% after KeyBanc lowered its delivery estimates for the electric-car maker's Model 3 line in the fourth quarter.

Among financial stocks, Morgan Stanley (MS) fell 0.6%, while Bank of America Corp.(BAC) was off 0.5%. The sector limited the broader market's advance.

What are other markets doing?

Stocks in Asia closed mixed, while European benchmarks struggled for direction (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-seesaw-as-traders-return-from-christmas-break-2017-12-27) around the flatline.

Oil prices dropped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-pulls-back-from-highs-as-investors-mull-production-outage-in-libya-2017-12-27), with West Texas Intermediate declining from its highest settlement since June 2015 reached on Tuesday.

Metals were mostly higher, with gold up 0.2% at $1,290 an ounce.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index was down 0.2% at 93.103.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 27, 2017 10:05 ET (15:05 GMT)