Stock market news live updates: December 29, 2021

U.S. stocks were mixed in intraday trading Wednesday, struggling to stay afloat after the S&P 500 took a breather in the previous trading session to cease a four-day climb toward its 70th all-time high.

The Dow was up for the sixth consecutive day, while the Nasdaq faltered, further dragged down by continued selling in tech stocks. The S&P was mostly flat.

“The market’s up about 30% this year, the S&P on a total return basis,” Hennessy Gas Utility Fund Portfolio Manager Josh Wein told Yahoo Finance Live. “With that in mind, I think the good times will continue.”

Main Street Asset Management CIO Erin Gibbs told Yahoo Finance Live that pullbacks caused by the Omicron variant resemble those that occurred when the Delta strain first took course and are likely to see the same gradual but upward recovery.

“We encourage our clients to stay in the markets, not to get out, because when those recoveries hit and when the sentiment changes, it happens so quickly that often by the time you get back into the market, you’ve already missed out,” she said.

Global COVID-19 cases hit a daily record this week, with more than 1.44 million worldwide infections reported as of Monday, according to Bloomberg. Infections from the highly-transmissible Omicron variant — found to spread 70 times faster than previous strains — comprised much of the newly tracked cases, though studies indicate illness caused by the strain is less likely to be severe or lead to hospitalizations.

The CDC also eased its guidance for quarantining after exposure to the virus, halving its recommendation to isolate upon a positive test from 10 to five days.

December was a volatile month for investors who weighed the strain’s impact on the economy, but recent developments that indicate Omicron may cause milder disease helped markets shake off earlier concerns.

“Perversely, bad news around Omicron might be good news for the markets because it gives the Fed the impetus to continue with these very loose monetary policies,” Opimas LLC Chief Executive Officer Octavio Marenzi told Yahoo Finance Live. “Too much good news for the real economy might actually be quite bad for the markets.”

On Tuesday, U.S. home price growth slowed for the third straight month but continued to climb overall. The Standard & Poor’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index. posted a 19.1% annual gain in October, down from 19.7% from September. The 20-City Composite posted a 18.4% annual gain, down from 19.1% a month earlier.

Home prices continue to appreciate at double-digit rates — two-to three-times faster than a year ago — across all metropolitan areas, CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp said in a statement prior to the results.

“Unfortunately, the rate of home price growth will be limiting for many young buyers who have yet to accumulate sufficient equity gains, and an expected increase in mortgage rates next year will present further challenges,” she said. “Together, these two factors will keep a lid on continued home price acceleration.”

The rest of the week is expected to remain quiet amid the typically-low year-end trading volumes and a light calendar of economic data and earnings releases, though investors will tune in on Thursday for a fresh read on initial jobless claims as they continue to assess the progress of economic recovery.

1:02 p.m. ET: Tesla shares decline after Musk’s stock sale

Shares of Tesla dipped as much as 2.2% in intraday trading after CEO Elon Musk sold another $1 billion of company stock.

The latest sale brings him closer to his target of reducing his stake in the company by 10%.

The electric vehicle-maker’s stock traded at $1,088.37 per share during the midday session.

1:00 p.m. ET: S&P 500 wavers, dipping into red

Here were the main moves in markets as of 1:00 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.08 (-0.00%) to 4,786.27

  • Dow (^DJI): +85.76 (+0.24%) to 36,483.97

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -56.57 (-0.36%) to 15,725.15

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.18 (+0.24%) to $76.16 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$6.80 (-0.38%) to $1,804.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +5.3 bps to yield 1.5340%

10:19 a.m. ET: Bitcoin poised to see worst month since May

Bitcoin’s (BTC-USD) declines have set December up to be its worst month since May. The token was up slightly, 0.74% higher to $47,893.30 as of 10:48 a.m. ET but continues to decline from its record overall.

The digital currency fell below its closely-watched level of $50,000, extending the slide from its all-time high into a fifth week, according to Bloomberg data. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index fell as much as 4.9% on Tuesday to its lowest since early October, while other digital currencies also slumped.

10:05 a.m. ET: Pending home sales hint housing market is cooling off

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index dropped 2.2% in November from the prior month, missing analyst expectations. The index, which tracks the number of homes that are under contract to be sold, serves as a leading indicator of the housing market’s health.

Bloomberg consensus estimates forecasted a 0.8% increase on the read. Pending sales slid 2.7% from the same month a year ago.

“There was less pending home sales action this time around, which I would ascribe to low housing supply, but also to buyers being hesitant about home prices,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks tick up slightly after futures waver

Here were the main moves at the start of trading:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +4.27 (+0.09%) to 4,790.62

  • Dow (^DJI): +17.54 (+0.05%) to 36,415.75

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +21.44 (+0.14%) to 15,803.16

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.33 (-0.43%) to $75.65 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$18.40 (-1.02%) to $1,792.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.9 bps to yield 1.5200%

9:05 a.m. ET: U.S. goods trade deficit widens to record 

The U.S. trade deficit in goods ballooned to a record in November as imports soared and exports fell.

The Commerce Department reported that the goods trade deficit expanded by 17.5% last month to $97.8 billion from $83.2 billion in October. The new figure tops the previous record deficit of $97 billion posted in September. Goods exports declined 2.1%, while imports rose by 4.7%.

Meanwhile, wholesale inventories crept up 1.2% last month, the report also showed. Retail inventories were up 2.0% and retail inventories, excluding autos, which go into the calculation of gross domestic product, rose by 1.3%

7:00 a.m. ET: Contracts on the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq remain muted

Futures markets were mostly flat ahead of the day’s open:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +4.50 points (+0.09%), to 4,783.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +15.00 points (+0.04%), to 36,297.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +37.50 points (+0.23%) to 16,525.00

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.40 (-0.53%) to $75.58 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$14.20 (-0.78%) to $1,796 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.2 bps to yield 1.493%

6:00 p.m. Tuesday ET: Stock futures open flat

Here’s how markets were moving ahead of overnight trading:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +3.75 points (+0.08%), to 4,782.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +8.00 points (+0.02%), to 36,290.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +30.75 points (+0.19%) to 16,518.75

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.09 (+0.12%) to $76.07 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$4.00 (-0.22%) to $1,806.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.6 bps to yield 1.484%

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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