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S&P 500, Nasdaq Post First Loss Of New Year; This Dow Stock Hits A Sell Signal | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 pared losses Wednesday but still closed with the first losses of the new year, snapping a six-day win streak.

X But the losses were minor. The Nasdaq, which was down as much as 0.7% early on, closed with a 0.1% decline amid weakness in semiconductor stocks. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index slid 1.2%.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1% also. The Dow Jones industrial average shed less than 0.1%. Intel (INTC) slid to the lowest level since October. The semiconductor bellwether broke out Dec. 20 from a cup-without-handle base, but its loss has triggered IBD’s 7%-8% sell rule. Shares have been trading below the 50-day moving average for nearly a week.

Volume rose on the NYSE but fell on the Nasdaq, according to early numbers. Winners and losers were even on the Nasdaq, but on the NYSE decliners led by an 8-to-5 ratio.

Wal-Mart (WMT), another Dow component, fell just below the 100.23 buy point of a flat base the retail giant had topped Monday.

Small caps’ losses were in line with the rest of the market, with the Russell 2000 down 0.1%.

The market spent most of the morning and middle part of the day reducing its losses. But selling returned around 2 p.m. ET, on a report that President Trump may withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement, more commonly known as NAFTA. Indexes recovered from that headline and pared losses into the close.

Earlier, Wall Street was shaken by a Bloomberg report that Chinese officials may pare or end their purchases of U.S. debt. China is one of the largest buyers of U.S. Treasuries, and a drop in that large pool of demand would send bond yields higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note’s yield reached as much as 2.59% — the highest since March — before erasing most of its advance.

With yields climbing, financial stocks showed relative strength. The SPDR S&P Bank (KBE) and SPDR S&P Regional Bank (KRE) exchange traded funds rose more than 1%. SPDR Financial (XLF) rose less than 1%. All three were among the best sector ETFs.

Gulfport, Miss.-based Hancock Holding (HBHC) broke out of a flat base and closed near the 53.45 buy point. Volume was heavy for the Gulf Coast bank. Several other regional banks tried to break out, but their stock action was hesitant.

Homebuilders were one of the worst industry groups of today’ market, off more than 2%. Lennar (LEN) reported a surprise decline in earnings Wednesday due to a change in the timing of a transaction designed to take advantage of tax-law changes.

Several oil industry groups rose after the price of crude remained near three-year highs. U.S. crude settled 1% higher at $63.57 a barrel on a report showing a drop in production and stockpiles.

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