Stocks are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks.
The S&P 500 was up 0.1% after wavering between gains and losses for much of the day. Technology stocks rose, offsetting losses in health care companies, banks and elsewhere in the market. Bond yields mostly fell, a sign that investors were feeling cautious.
Investors are betting that the economy and corporate profits will begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. and countries around the world slowly open up again. However, concerns remain that the relaxing of stay-at-home mandates and the reopening of businesses could lead to another surge in infections, potentially ushering in another wave of shutdowns.
“What the market is telling you right now is that it has a positive sentiment on a vaccine or treatment,” said Josh Markman, managing director at Bel Air Investment Advisors. “I think it’s a little rosy right now.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 49 points, or 0.2%, to 24,550. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks was up 0.1%.
Optimism about a potential vaccine for COVID-19 and hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in the second half of the year pushed stocks sharply higher Monday, reversing all of the market’s losses so far this month. The S&P 500 is still down about 13% from its all-time high in February.
A safe, effective vaccine for the new coronavirus would help reinforce confidence as economies reopen after shutdowns to contain the pandemic. Experts have warned, however, that development of such a vaccine will likely take many months, and possibly years.
Quarterly results from two big retailers Tuesday underscored how companies that have been able to remain open or effectively amplify their e-commerce business have been able to fare far better than those that have had to temporarily close doors.
Investors sent shares in Walmart up 0.8% after the retail giant reported a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies while sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Kohl’s, whose stores have been closed during the outbreak, fell 8.2% after reporting that it swung to a $541 million quarterly loss as its revenue sank more than 40%.
Oil prices fell, relinquishing early gains, though they remained above $30 a barrel. Prices have firmed up as oil producing nations cut back on output and as the gradual reopening of the economies around the globe helps spur demand, which crashed earlier this year due to widespread travel and business shutdowns related to the coronavirus. Crude oil started the year at about $60 a barrel.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 0.3% to $31.71 a barrel . Brent crude oil, the international standard, was down 1% at $34.47 a barrel.
Bonds yields were mostly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for interest rates on many consumer loans, fell to 0.71% from 0.74% late Monday.
France’s CAC 40 lost 0.9%, while Germany’s DAX inched up 0.1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.8%. Markets in Asia finished higher.