Some of the Christmas cheer came out of the market on Wednesday as a pullback that began last week just below 1,450 in the S&P gained a little steam on the day. Investor anxiety appears to be centered around the fiscal cliff, but a less-than-stellar retail holiday season and the ongoing drama of the European sovereign debt crisis are also topics to keep an eye on heading into the New Year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a little more than 24 points to close at 13,114. The widely watched blue-chip index traded in a range between 13,076 and 13,175.
The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY ) fell 0.45 percent to close the session at $141.71. Volume was much lighter than normal with around 77 million SPY shares trading hands compared to a three month daily average of 137 million.
The PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF (NASDAQ: QQQ ), which tracks the performance of the Nasdaq 100, lost 0.88 percent to trade near $64.50. The QQQ has registered a gain of roughly 15.50 percent in 2012.
Crude oil was strongly higher on Wednesday as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard began a series of war game exercises in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday. NYMEX crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, were last trading up 2.80 percent to $91.09. Brent crude contracts, which are the primary benchmark for European oil, had added 2.44 percent to trade at $111.45. In ETF trading, the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO ) closed the equity session with a gain of 2.79 percent to $33.14.
Precious metals recorded small gains on Wednesday despite the lower stock market. COMEX gold futures were last up 0.07 percent to $1,660.60 while silver futures had added 0.41 percent to $30.02. The heavily traded SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE: GLD ) closed the equity session with a gain od 0.11 percent to $160.80.
Treasury prices closed the day higher on some risk aversion in other areas of the market. The iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE: TLT ) climbed 0.36 percent to $122.20. The yield on the 10-Year Note fell 3 basis points to 1.75 percent.
The U.S. dollar was essentially flat on the day. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP ), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, fell 0.02 percent. The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last up 0.30 percent to $1.3220.
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