Wall Street flat after opening on last trading day of 2016

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street was flat after the open on the last trading day of 2016 due to losses across most sectors, but was still on track to record hefty gains for the year.

The S&P is on track to rise nearly 10 per cent this year, the Nasdaq 8.3 per cent and the Dow 13.7 per cent.

The markets have shown surprising resilience to major political events, such as Britain's vote in June to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US president in November.

US stocks, which had not priced in a Trump victory in the run-up to the vote, marked a series of record highs on bets that his policies would spur growth.

"The prospects of growth took center stage this year, with investors hoping that the new political phenomenon will spur the economy," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive officer at 50 Park Investments.

This year also stands in stark contrast to 2015 when a steep drop in oil prices left the S&P 500 and the Dow nursing losses. The commodity bounced back by more than 50 per cent for its best year since 2009, partly due to a deal by major producers to limit supply.

The S&P energy index, which was the worst performer last year, is set to become the biggest gainer among the 10 other industry sectors in 2016.

At 9:39am in New York (1439 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.64 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 19,816.14.

The S&P 500 was down 1.26 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 2,248.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 3.64 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,428.45.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,452 to 1,094. On the Nasdaq, 1,123 issues fell and 1,092 advanced.