Wall Street little changed as tech treads water

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan, Dec 28, 2017.
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan, Dec 28, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks were little changed in light trading on Thursday (Dec 28), as technology stocks continued to tread water and offset gains in financial stocks.

Tech stocks slipped 0.04 per cent and were on track for their sixth loss in seven sessions. The index has struggled somewhat to close out the year but remains the best-performing sector in 2017, up more than 37 per cent.

"Tech had such a great year, it is more likely to be just rebalancing rather than the beginning of any major trend," said Ed Keon, managing director and portfolio manager at QMA, a multi-asset manager in Newark, New Jersey.

"Tech is probably still going to be a good place to be in 2018."

Apple shares were flat after relinquishing earlier gains and Amazon edged up 0.3 per cent after Reuters reported the companies are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia.

Volumes remained thin due to the holiday week between Christmas and New Year's Day. The prior two sessions showed the lowest full-day trading volumes of the year.

A gain in copper prices helped lift the materials sector 0.2 per cent, led by a 2.5 per cent gain in Freeport-McMoRan.

The benchmark S&P 500 has climbed nearly 20 per cent this year, on track to record its biggest annual gains since 2013, boosted by robust economic growth and solid corporate earnings.

The rally is widely expected to extend into 2018, fuelled by gains from a new US tax law that lowers the tax burden on corporations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43.21 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 24,817.51, the S&P 500 gained 1.8 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 2,684.42 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.63 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6,941.96.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at 245,000, slightly above the 240,000 forecast, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a tightening labor market.

Financials were also higher with JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Berkshire Hathaway advancing to help the financial index rise 0.3 per cent.

J.B. Hunt Transport lost 0.8 per cent to $114.52 after the logistic services provider forecast current-quarter profit below estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.54-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 18 new lows.