FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2019, file photo trader James MacGilvray works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Monday, Dec. 30. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Stocks open lower at beginning of a holiday-shortened week

December 30, 2019 - 10:23 am

Stocks fell in early trading on Wall Street Monday, led by declines in technology and communication services companies.

Microsoft slid 1.3% and Apple dropped 1.2%, while Facebook lost 1.5% and Alphabet, Google's parent company, fell 1.2%.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending also moved lower. Home Depot dropped 1.2% and homebuilder D.R. Horton shed 1.1%.

Energy stocks notched the biggest gain as the price of U.S. crude oil rose, extending a four-week winning streak. Helmerich & Payne rose 2.2%.

The selling cut into some of the market's recent gains in what has been a strong run for stocks. The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen five straight weeks, notching multiple record highs along the way.

With less than two days of trading left in 2019, the market is on track for its best year since 2013.

A truce in the 17-month U.S.-China trade war and positive signs for the economy have helped keep investors in a buying mood. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times. The central bank appears set to keep them low for the near future.

Still, as the market prepares to close out a strong year of gains this week, uncertainty remains over the final details of a “Phase 1” trade deal between Washington and Beijing, which U.S. officials say will be signed in early January. Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, and it's unclear how much impact it will have if the two sides are unable to resolve remaining differences.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 0.6% as of 10:14 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 174 points, or 0.6%, to 28,470. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.9%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.5%.

WHAT A RELIEF: Axsome Therapeutics rose 2.1% after the pharmaceutical company reported enouraging results from a trial of its migraine treatment drug.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.92% from 1.87% late Friday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 10 cents to $61.82 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 18 cents to $67.05 per barrel.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European stock indexes moved broadly lower. Germany's DAX fell 0.7%, while the CAC 40 in Paris slid 0.6%. In Britain, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.5%.

Major markets in Asia closed mostly lower.

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