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Wall Street slips but closes near record

·2-min read

The S&P 500 has slipped but stayed near closing record highs posted in consecutive sessions, as investors weighed more strong US economic data against nervousness about upcoming quarterly earnings reports.

US job openings rose in February to a two-year high while hiring picked up. The data came on the heels of Friday's strong payrolls report and a report on Monday showing activity in the service sector climbed to a record high in March.

The International Monetary Fund raised its global growth forecast to 6 per cent this year from 5.5 per cent, a rate not seen since the 1970s.

But with an upcoming earnings season expected to show S&P profit growth of 24.2 per cent from a year earlier, according to Refintiv data, investors may be waiting to see how strong the results will actually be.

"The big unanswered question is how open the economy is right now and how many people are out there," said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

"These security prices are reflecting an anticipation that the economy is going to get back to normal sooner rather than later and it is not exactly clear where we are in that process."

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 96.35 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 33,430.84, the S&P 500 lost 4.09 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 4,073.82 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.21 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 13,698.38.

Gains on Wall Street were muted, with the Dow slightly lower a day after a rally sent it and the S&P 500 to record highs. Investors were assessing the staying power of gains in economically sensitive sectors such as industrials and materials that have been leading the charge higher.

Shares of many economically sensitive companies are classified as value stocks. But growth, which includes many stocks in the technology and communication services sectors, has shown signs of life.

Large US fiscal and monetary stimulus measures and a swift rollout of vaccines have pushed the S&P 500 and Dow to record levels, with the CBOE volatility index retreating to pre-pandemic lows.

Still, some investors remain worried about the possibility of rising inflation and proposals for higher taxes. In addition, other countries continue to have difficulty containing the coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday the country is facing a very serious third wave.

Snap Inc jumped 5.12 per cent after Atlantic Equities upgraded its rating on the photo-messaging app owner's shares to "overweight" from "neutral".

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd added 4.61 per cent as it said it would begin sailing outside the United States from the Caribbean and Greek Isles in July, restarting trips after a year-long hiatus brought on by the pandemic.