The S&P 500 and Dow have declined as investor uncertainty persisted amid the US-Iran standoff, while energy shares fell as oil prices gave up recent gains.
Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp declined, with US oil prices falling after a recent rally on escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. The United States killed a top Iranian military commander last week.
Chipmakers gained and helped to keep the Nasdaq in positive territory. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index rose, boosted by Micron Technology Inc, which jumped 7.5 per cent after brokerage Cowen & Co upgraded the chipmaker to “outperform.”
Equity investors have been jittery since late last week, when a US drone strike killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, taking major indexes off record highs.
“There are a number of headlines on the political front that the market is trying to get their arms around,” said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio manager and strategist at Natixis Investment Managers’ Multi-Asset Portfolio Solutions group in Boston.
“The knee-jerk reaction is to have a little bit of volatility, a little of repricing some of the risks.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 76.09 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 28,627.29, the S&P 500 lost 4.43 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 3,241.85 and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.64 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 9,082.11.
On the economic front, data showed new orders for US-made goods fell in November, pulled down by steep declines in demand for machinery and transportation equipment, pointing to sustained weakness in manufacturing.
However, a reading on non-manufacturing sector activity for November came in better than expected.
Among gainers, Microchip Technology Inc rose 6.2 per cent after raising the midpoint of its third-quarter sales forecast.
Apache Corp soared 25 per cent after it made a major oil discovery, with France’s Total SA, off the coast of Suriname.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 91 new highs and 15 new lows.