A late rally for stocks fizzled, with shares unable to overcome the drags presented by the apparent lack of progress on fiscal legislation in the U.S. Congress and a disappointing measure of holiday sales. Most industrial sectors in the S&P 500 finished lower although mining and material stocks posted moderate gains, rising nearly 0.7%, as a group with broad-based advances for commodities.
Consumer stocks were the worst performers today after MasterCard (MA) Advisors SpendingPulse reported a 0.7% rise in holiday spending over year-ago levels, trailing a 2% rise last year and lagging estimates heading into the current season forecasting as much as a 3.5% rise in holiday sales. Shares of MasterCard rival Visa Corp (V) also fell today.
President Obama is returning to Washington, D.C., overnight, to still-uncertain prospects for a positive outcome in efforts to avert scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts taking effect at the start of the new year. Senate members also are returning tomorrow and reportedly were discussing possible remedies but there are still no immediate plans for the House to reconvene.
Home prices rose at an annual rate of 4.3% in October, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, marking the biggest rise in home prices in more than two years and topping analysts' expectations.
February gold rose $1.00 to $1660.50 per ounce, March silver rose 13 cents to $30.03 per ounce. March copper rose 5 cents to $3.60 per pound. Crude oil for February delivery settled $2.37 higher at $90.98 per barrel. January natural gas was up 4.6 cents at $3.392 per 1 million BTU.
Here's Where The Markets Stood At Day's End
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