U.S. Stocks Finish Strong Year On Lackluster Note

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Stocks turned in a lackluster performance for much of the trading day on Friday before coming under pressure going into the close. Despite the late-day pullback on the final trading session of the year, 2021 still turned out to be a particularly strong year for the markets.

The major averages all finished the day in negative territory. The Dow edged down 59.78 points or 0.2 percent to 36,338.30, the Nasdaq slid 96.59 points or 0.6 percent at 15,644.97 and the S&P 500 dipped 12.55 points or 0.3 percent to 4,766.18.

For the year, the S&P 500 spiked by 26.9 percent, while the Nasdaq and the Dow soared by 21.4 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively. The major averages all moved higher for the third straight year.

The lackluster performance on the day came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves on the final trading day of the year.

A lack of major U.S. economic data may also have kept traders on the sidelines along with limited activity in overseas markets.

Nonetheless, the Dow and the S&P 500 remain near their recent record highs, as traders are optimistic the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will only be a small road bump for the global economic recovery.

Most of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day, although weakness among computer hardware and software stocks weighed on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Among individual stocks, shares of Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (LXRX) showed a significant pullback after seeing early strength after the drug maker submitted a new drug application to the FDA seeking approval for its heart drug sotagliflozin for adults with type 2 diabetes.

Fitness equipment maker Peloton (PTON) also showed a notable move to the downside after JMP Securities downgraded its rating on the company's stock to Market Perform from Market Outperform.

On the other hand, drug giant Pfizer (PFE) moved higher after British regulators approved the use of its Covid-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid for people over 18 with mild to moderate illness.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Friday, with several major markets closed for New Year's Eve. China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slid by 0.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the German markets were closed for New Year's Eve, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both fell by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction over the course of the session before closing roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 1.512 percent.

Looking Ahead

The monthly jobs report is likely to be in the spotlight in the first week of the New Year, while reports on manufacturing and service sector activity may also attract some attention along with the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

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