By Johanna BennettU.S. stocks finished mostly lower Wednesday, giving back earlier gains, with the Dow and the S&P 500 both extending their losing streak to a fourth day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25 points, or 0.15% to close at 15,890. The S&P 500 index lost two points, or 0.12%, to end at 1,793.
The Nasdaq Composite, however, managed to buck the trend, though not by much. The index rose one point, or 0.02% to close at 4,038.
It was a choppy market. The big indices all moved into positive territory on news about progress towards a U.S. budget deal. Those gains disappeared as the day progressed.
What happened? Upbeat economic reports reinforced fears that later this month the Federal Reserve could start to taper the bond-buying program that has supported equities.
Data from ADP showed more private-sector jobs were created in November than economists had forecast. The report is viewed as a preview of the Labor Department’s November employment report, due Friday, which investors are watching closely for hints as when the Fed will take action.
New home sales were higher than forecast in October, rising to an annual rate of 444,000, on expectations of a rise to 426,000. And the Fed’s Beige Book described improving economic conditions around the country.
A report about the service sector of the U.S. economy disappointed. The Institute for Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing purchasing managers index declined by more than expected in November, falling to 53.9 from October’s 55.4. It was forecast to slip to 55.
Yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 2.836%, its highest close since Friday. Bond yields move inversely to bond prices.
Crude oil prices rose 1.17% to $97.16 per barrel. Gold prices rose as well, up 1.78% to $1,242.50 per pounce.
In corporate news: Express (EXPR) fell 23% to $19 after the teen clothing retailer cut its full-year outlook.
J.C. Penney (JCP) fell 4.45% to $9.66 as investors appeared disappointed by the 10.1% same-store sales growth reported for November.
Deere (DE) rose 3.2% to $85.38 after the equipment maker expanded its share repurchase.
CF Industries (CF) rose 10.7% to $237 after the fertilizer maker said its evaluating its dividend payment.
General Motors (GM) rose 1.54% to $38.71 on news that hedge fund Hayman Capital has taken a stake in the automobile maker and says the stock could rise more than 40% in the next 12 to 18 months after the U.S. Treasury sells its stake in the company.
And Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) fell 0.6% to $370.68 following news from the FDA that the firm warned customers last month of problems with certain instruments in its da Vinci surgical robots.
After the closing bell, Walt Disney (DIS) rose 0.7% to $70.47 after announcing a 15% dividend hike. And teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) fell 3.8% $9 after reporting fiscal third-quarter financial results.