Stocks flat amid omicron concerns

Traders will focus on pending home sales for November

U.S. stocks traded mostly flat amid lingering worries about the coronavirus omicron variant.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 34 points, or 0.09%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 0.10% and 0.12%, respectively.

Traders will focus on a key housing report.

The National Association of Realtors is out with its index of pending home sales for November. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expect an increase of 0.5%. That compares with a much stronger-than-expected jump of 7.5% in October.

HOME PRICES JUMP 18.4% IN OCTOBER

In Asia on Wednesday, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.6%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.8% and China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.9%.

Although Asia has relatively few reported infection cases of the omicron variant compared to the U.S. and Europe, fears are growing that omicron will spread quickly once it gets going. The vaccination rate is about 80% in Japan, but booster shots have barely gotten started.

In Europe, London's FTSE rose 1%, Germany's DAX was off 0.3% and France's CAC added 0.1%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 35911.81 -201.81 -0.56%
SP500 S&P 500 4662.85 +3.82 +0.08%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14893.75271 +86.94 +0.59%

Wall Street had a wobbly day of trading that pulled the S&P 500 just below its latest record high. The benchmark index slipped 0.1% to 4,786.35 after wavering between modest gains and losses. The slight loss snapped a four-day winning streak for the index, which set an all-time high on Monday.

Roughly 60% of the companies in the S&P 500 rose, but a slide in technology, health care and communication stocks outweighed gains in industrial firms, household goods makers and elsewhere in the market.

The Dow rose 95.83 points to 36,398.21. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 89.54 points to 15,781.72. 

The major U.S. stock indexes are on pace to close out 2021 with strong gains. The S&P 500 is up 27.4% with three trading days to go this year.

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Technology companies, which did well on Monday, led the decliners in the S&P 500. Graphics chip maker Nvidia fell 2%.

Health care and communication services stocks also weighed on the market. Pfizer fell 2% and Moderna dropped 2.2%. Twitter fell 2%.

Industrial companies and household goods makers were among the better performers. Boeing added 1.5% and Campbell Soup rose 2.8% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

Airline stocks recovered some of their losses from this month. American Airlines rose 2%, United Airlines gained 1.5% and Delta Air Lines closed 1.6% higher.

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In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude slipped 6 cents to $75.91 a barrel from $75.98. Brent crude, the international standard, added 12 cents to $79.06 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.