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U.S. stocks mixed as Dow, S&P 500 retreat from Santa Claus rally

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Shutterstock photo - -- U.S. stocks were mixed on Thursday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average halted a 3-day winning streak, retreating from a considerable Santa Claus Rally from the previous session on the eve of the Christmas holiday.

Energy and retail stocks remained in focus, as U.S. crude futures continued their bounce off multi-year lows and frenzied shoppers crowded malls nationwide for last-minute gifts. On Thursday, WTI crude was on track for its fourth straight winning session, hovering at two-week highs near $38 a barrel. A session earlier, Texas Long Sweet futures surged amid an unexpected draw in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. For the week, U.S. crude futures were on track to gain nearly 10% in value.

Investors also kept a close eye on retail stocks on the last day of shopping before the start of Christmas. A spike in online shopping has intensified pressure on shipping companies to deliver last-minute gifts on time, while brick and mortar shops have been forced to slash prices in order to attract more customers. A major storm throughout the Southern portions of the U.S. also contributed to mounting fears that thousands of customers might not receive their gifts in time for the holiday. Shares in FedEx Corporation (N:FDX) on Thursday lost roughly 0.70% to 149.65.

The Dow fell 50.44 or 0.29% to 17,552.17, while the the S&P 500 Composite index lost 3.30 or 0.16% to 2,060.99, ending one of their strongest 3-day rallies of the year. The NASDAQ Composite index gained 2.56 or 0.05% to 5,048.49 on a light day of volume among U.S. equities. The Dow crossed into negative territory for the year at the end of the session, while the NASDAQ is now slightly up for 2015.

On the S&P 500, 9 of 10 sectors closed in the red, as stocks in the Energy, Telecommunications and Basic Materials industries lagged. Stocks in the Health Care sector, the lone industry to close in the green, led.

The top performer on the Dow was EI du Pont de Nemours and Company (N:DD), which gained 0.37 or 0.56% to 66.40. Shares in DuPont (N:DD) are down nearly 6% after the chemical giant announced a proposed $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical Company (N:DOW) earlier this month. Shares in Nike Inc (N:NKE) closed at 63.18, after the multinational athletic apparel giant completed a highly-anticipated stock split on Thursday. Nike capped a stellar year earlier this week when it topped analysts forecasts with both its earnings and revenues in the second quarter.

The biggest gainer on the NASDAQ was NXP Semiconductors NV (O:NXPI) which rose 1.89 or 2.24% to 86.42. Earlier this week, the Netherlands semiconductor company received secure product certification from China UnionPay, a top domestic bank card organization in the People's Republic of China. The worst performer was Incyte Corporation (O:INCY), which lost 1.60 or 1.45% to 108.92. Shares in the Delaware-based pharmaceutical company retreated, two days after experiencing large inflows of more than $31 million in Tuesday's session. The upticks on Tuesday were offset by more than $19 million in downticks on the session, according to reports.

The top performer on the S&P 500 was student loan provider Navient Cor (O:NAVI), which gaining 0.46 or 3.79% to 12.61. The worst performer was Fossil Group Inc (O:FOSL), which fell 0.91 or 2.37% to 37.54 For the year, shares in the North Texas-based retailer have slumped more than 65% amid considerably layoffs in its workforce.

On the New York Stock Exchange, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by a 1,634 to 1,352 margin. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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