US stocks wobble, hover around record highs set last week

Trader Vincent Napolitano, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Stocks are opening modestly higher on Wall Street Monday, bringing major indexes a bit further past the record highs they set last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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By DAMIAN J. TROISE and ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writers

Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Monday and hovered around the record highs they set last week.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% as of 2:16 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 17 points, or 0.1%, to 35,840 and the Nasdaq rose 0.1%.

Smaller company stocks far outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors were confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 2.4%.

While more stocks in the S&P 500 rose than fell, losses by technology, communication and health care companies outweighed gains elsewhere in the benchmark index. Microsoft fell 1.1%, Google parent Alphabet slid 2.9% and UnitedHealth Group dropped 1.8%.

Energy stocks made solid gains as the price of U.S. crude oil rose 0.3%, adding to a more than 75% gain so far this year. Exxon Mobil rose 2%. A mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending for goods and services also rose.

Bond yields rose and helped banks make gains, as they rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.57% from 1.55% late Friday. Capital One rose 1%.

Every major index reached record highs on Friday to cap the broader market’s best month in nearly a year. Stocks have been gaining ground for weeks as investors review a steady flow of mostly encouraging corporate earnings.

More than half of the companies in the benchmark S&P 500 index have already reported results. Analysts expect overall profit growth of 36% by the time reporting is finished. Another 167 companies within the index will report their results this week.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will report its results on Tuesday and CVS Health will report results on Wednesday.

Investors will also be watching another policy meeting by the Federal Reserve, which is in the process of considering how to wind down its extraordinary support measures for the economy. The central bank will release its latest statement on Wednesday.

Rising inflation remains a concern and will likely be persistent, but will probably moderate through the end of the year, said Rod von Lipsey, managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management. Meanwhile, investors have been shifting their focus to earnings and other fundamental measures as they move past the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“Obviously we’re waiting to see what the Fed has to say, but there’s still plenty of room and capacity for the markets to continue this recovery,” he said.

Wall Street will get several more economic updates this week.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for October on Wednesday. That will give investors a glimpse into how the sector, which accounts for the bulk of economic activity, is recovering after the surge of COVID-19 cases over the summer.

Investors will also get another update on the employment market when the Labor Department releases its jobs report for October on Friday.