Major stock indexes ended slightly lower after a mixed sector performance, with weakness in megacaps weighing on the market. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 percent and the NASDAQ lost 0.6 percent.
Among sectors, communications services and tech stocks lagged while real estate, consumer staples, and industrials held up best. Health care also outperformed with a boost from Pfizer, up 1.1 percent, after UK regulators approved use of its anti-Covid pill, and Israel announced plans for a limited second round of boosters.
Meta/Facebook, down 2.3 percent, Amazon, down 1.1 percent, and Tesla, down 1.3 percent, were among megacaps retreating into the close after strong gains in 2021.
Among other companies in focus, cruise lines Carnival, down 2.0 percent, and Norwegian Cruise Line, down 1.4 percent, remained under pressure after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans against cruise travel. Peloton, the former stay-at-home favorite, lost 3.9 percent after an analyst downgrade. Didi, the Chinese ridesharing giant, fell another 4.8 percent as it continued a disastrous run after falling afoul of Chinese authorities.
These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil fell US$1.54 to US$77.78 while spot gold rose US$12.69 to US$1,829.67. The US dollar declined vs. most major currencies. Yields on the US Treasury 30-year bond fell 1 basis point at 1.91 percent and the 10-year note was flat at 1.51 percent.
Equities edged down in quiet holiday trading, with travel & leisure hurt by worries linked to the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 declined 0.2 percent, the German market was on holiday, and the French CAC and the UK FTSE 100 both lost 0.3 percent.
Concern over surging Omicron variant cases was offset in part by more reports suggesting the rate of serious illness remains low. Market sentiment also drew support from a better-than-expected Chinese manufacturing purchasers report and a positive readout from a telephone call between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Among sectors, weakest were travel & leisure, retail, basic resources, and oil & gas, while holding up best were construction & materials, autos & parts, financial services, and real estate.
Equities were mixed with Chinese tech stocks outperforming after a bounce earlier during the US hours. Investors are focusing on reports suggesting Omicron cases tend to be relatively mild, even as global economies brace for an array of disruptions stemming from the sheer volume of infections. Markets were shut in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped by 1.2 percent as Chinese internet/tech, health care/biotech stocks surged on yearend position adjustments during Thursday's Wall Street session. China's CSI 300 index rose 0.4 percent and the Shanghai composite index gained 0.6 percent with tech stocks leading.
Australia's All Ordinaries index lost 0.8 percent in thin trading as investors trimmed positions at yearend. Declines were across the board but real estate, consumer discretionary, and financials fared worst while materials and industrials held up best.