US stock indexes end mostly lower, end 3-day winning streak

U.S. stocks indexes barely budged Thursday as the market’s three-day winning streak stalled.

The benchmark S&P 500 index finished essentially flat as losses in communications, industrial and health care stocks outweighed gains in financial and technology companies. Several retailers and homebuilders also declined.

Reports of a criminal investigation into Facebook’s data-sharing practices weighed on the social media giant’s shares.

The market was coming off a solid three-day rally as it reclaimed some of the momentum it had in January and February.

Investors are still waiting for some more news on U.S.-China trade negotiations before they feel comfortable pushing the market much higher. Media reports had stoked hope that a summit would take place this month, but no concrete announcement has been made.

Despite some softness over the last few weeks, U.S. stocks are still considered a safe haven relative to the rest of the world, said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

“We’re still the lead sled dogs here, we’re pulling the global economy along,” he said.

The S&P 500 index slipped 2.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,808.48. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 7.05 points, or 0.03 percent, to 25,709.94.

The Nasdaq composite dropped 12.50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,630.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 6.25 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,549.63.

Boeing fell 1 percent. The stock has slumped throughout the week as nations and airlines ground its newest 737s over safety concerns. A second deadly crash over the weekend involving its 737 Max 8 and safety concerns stunted the company’s stock gains.

The Commerce Department said sales of new U.S. homes slumped 6.9 percent in January, a possible sign that would-be buyers paused during the government shutdown even as mortgage rates continued to decline. The report also showed sales prices declined 3.8 percent. Homebuilder stocks were mostly trading lower following the report. Hovnanian Enterprises dropped 2.5 percent.

Technology companies and banks led the gainers. Apple rose 1.1 percent and Wells Fargo added 0.9 percent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.63 percent from 2.61 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar strengthened to 111.73 Japanese yen from 111.05 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.1300 from $1.1329.

The price of U.S. crude oil rose 0.6 percent to settle at $58.61 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 0.5 percent to close at $67.23 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline declined 0.4 percent to $1.85 a gallon, heating oil slid 0.4 percent to $1.98 a gallon and natural gas picked up 1.2 percent to $2.86 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold fell 1.1 percent to $1,295.10 an ounce, silver dropped 1.8 percent to $15.17 an ounce and copper lost 1.5 percent to $2.89 a pound.