U.S. stocks traded mixed on Thursday, Dec. 6, as investors found favor in defensive sectors, as well as government bonds, amid a move toward risk aversion in the final trading days of a record year for global equity markets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 31 points, or 0.13%, with the broader S&P 500 slipping 0.09% thanks in part to weaker telecom shares. Shares of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) - Get Report and AT&T Inc. (T) - Get Report traded to the downside.
The Nasdaq gained 0.07%. Shares of Facebook Inc (FB) - Get Report rose 1.6%, Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) - Get Report gained 1%, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - Get Report advanced 1.2% and Netflix Inc. (NFLX) - Get Report rose slightly.
Home Depot Inc. (HD) - Get Report shares fell 1.9% even as the home-improvement retailer reaffirmed its full-year sales and earnings guidance ahead of an investor day conference call from its Atlanta headquarters and outlined a $15 billion share buyback plan.
Investors were also focused on another major announcement in the healthcare sector, which saw UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s (UNH) - Get Report Optum combined DaVita Inc's (DVA) - Get Report medical unit in a $4.9 billion deal.
DaVita shares gained 10%, while UnitedHealth Group shares added 0.3%.
U.S. 2-year note yields rose to a nine-year high of 1.82% overnight before paring that move to 1.79% even as 10-year yields rallied to 2.32%, putting the difference between the two values at just 52 basis points, leading investors to worry if so-called "curve inversion," in which short term rates rise higher than longer-term ones, was taking place. The condition sometimes forecasts recession.
Investors got an early indication on the U.S. jobs report for November from ADP's private sector jobs reading on Wednesday, which showed a modestly better-than-expected 190,000 Americans found work last month, down from 235,000 in October, largely in education and health services and manufacturing.
Oil prices in the U.S. were down 1.6% after the Energy Information Administration said crude-oil inventories fell 5.6 million barrels in the last week, more than analysts expected. Stocks in the energy sector were lower.
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