Stocks wobble, hover near record highs in afternoon trading

Business

Stocks wobbled between small gains and losses in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday, hovering around their record highs as investors remain cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery.

Vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has bumped up his deadline for states to make doses available to all adults by April 19. The vaccines are helping to fuel a recovery, but the virus is still very much a threat as variants are discovered and threaten additional lockdowns.

The S&P 500 was up 0.2% as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern. Technology, communication and financial companies were helping to lift the market. Those gains were kept in check by a pullback in industrials, materials and health care stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed, and the Nasdaq rose 0.1% after having been down 0.3% in the early going.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was holding steady at 1.65% after moving up and down earlier in the day. A sharp increase in bond yields since the beginning of the year reflects a growing concern among investors that inflation could return as economic growth heats up and the U.S. pulls out of its pandemic-induced recession. Higher yields can slow down the economy by making it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money.

Traders will be looking ahead to the release later in the day of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting on interest rate policy to watch for clues about the Fed’s thinking about the economy and how long it might wait before eventually raising rates.

The broader market has been mostly subdued since the S&P 500 reached another record high on Monday. Stocks within the index are just about evenly split between gainers and losers.

Analysts expect the recovery to continue, but they also expect the market remain choppy as investors shift money to companies and industries that stand to benefit as the pandemic eases.

Carnival, which essentially shut down during the pandemic, rose 2.8%. The company said bookings have picked up. Other cruise line operators also gained ground as they plan to restart operations.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell less than 0.1%, Germany’s DAX fell 0.2%, and Britain’s FTSE rose 0.9%. Markets in Asia were mixed.

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