Stocks finished mixed on Tuesday during an abbreviated trading session as major averages hovered near record levels. Stocks are on pace for their best yearly return since 2013 as today marks the beginning of the Santa Claus rally period. Historically, stocks perform well in the final five trading days of the year with an average gain of 1.3% on the S&P 500 since 1950. The Dow lost 36 points, while the S&P 500 dipped just below the flat line, with each benchmark index on pace to cap a more than 20% advance this year. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.1% to a fresh record high, notching its tenth straight session of gains.
On the data front, the lone update from the Richmond Fed showed manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region contracted in December, disappointing economists’ forecast for a modest expansion. Treasuries advanced slightly in the absence of any real market catalyst, with the yield on the 10-year note dipping two basis points to 1.91%. In commodities, WTI Crude added 0.8% to $60.99/barrel and remains on pace for its largest monthly gain since January. COMEX gold rose 1.1% to $1,499.10/ounce and is on course for its largest yearly gain since 2010 with a year-to-date gain of 16%.
Six of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory, with the Real Estate and Consumer Discretionary groups pacing the gains. Industrial shares were a notable decliner, with Boeing down 1.4% after the jet-maker told suppliers it will suspend 737 MAX jet parts shipments for one-month.