Nasdaq, S&P 500 Close Lower After Reaching Record Intraday Highs

After turning in a mixed performance for much of the session, stocks came under pressure going into the close of trading on Monday. The Nasdaq slid more firmly into negative territory and the S&P 500 also turned lower, although the narrower Dow managed to cling to a modest gain.

The major averages finished the day mixed for the third consecutive session. While the Dow inched up 17.27 points or 0.1 percent to 35,619.26, the S&P 500 fell 15.02 points or 0.3 percent to 4,682.94 and the Nasdaq tumbled 202.68 points or 1.3 percent to 15,854.76.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both reached new record intraday highs before turning lower as the day progressed.

The mixed close on Wall Street came after President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve Chair.

The White House also revealed that Biden intends to nominate current Fed Governor Lael Brainard as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System.

“While there’s still more to be done, we’ve made remarkable progress over the last 10 months in getting Americans back to work and getting our economy moving again,” Biden said.

He added, “That success is a testament to the economic agenda I’ve pursued and to the decisive action that the Federal Reserve has taken under Chair Powell and Dr. Brainard to help steer us through the worst downturn in modern American history and put us on the path to recovery.”

Biden expressed confidence Powell and Brainard’s focus on keeping inflation low, prices stable, and delivering full employment will make the economy stronger than ever before.

“Fundamentally, if we want to continue to build on the economic success of this year we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve – and I have full confidence after their trial by fire over the last 20 months that Chair Powell and Dr. Brainard will provide the strong leadership our country needs,” Biden said.

Powell, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, took office as Fed Chair in February 2018. His current term was due to end in February 2022.

While the re-nomination of Powell will give the Fed stability as it grapples with the economic recovery and elevated inflation, Brainard was seen as the more dovish choice.

Sector News

Software stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the session, dragging the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index down by 2 percent. The index ended last Friday’s trading at a record closing high.

Considerable weakness was also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

The weakness among gold stocks came amid a substantial decline in the price of the precious metal, with gold for December delivery plummeting $45.30 to $1,806.30 an ounce.

Semiconductor and retail stocks also showed significant moves to the downside on the day, while strength remained visible among steel, telecom and banking stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also closed mixed after showing a lack of direction over the course of the session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries gave back ground after moving notably higher over the three previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, advanced 8.9 basis points to 1.625 percent.

Looking Ahead

A quiet day on the U.S. economic front may lead to light trading on Tuesday ahead of the release of a slew of data on Wednesday.

On the earnings front, retailers Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) Best Buy (BBY), and Dollar Tree (DLTR) are among the companies due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading on Tuesday.

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