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Stocks finish lower in light trading ahead of July 4 holiday


    An American flag hangs on the front of the New York Stock Exchange in February.

U.S. stocks closed lower today following a swift sell-off in the final minutes of a shortened trading session ahead of the Independence Day holiday.

The losses snapped a three-day winning streak for the stock market, wiping out modest gains from earlier in the day.

Technology companies and banks led the market slide, outweighing gains in health care and energy stocks. Gainers slightly outnumbered fallers on the New York Stock Exchange, with small-company stocks faring better than the overall market. Trading volume was lighter than usual going into Wednesday’s U.S. market holiday.

The S&P 500 index fell 13.49 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,713.22. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 132.36 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,174.82. The Nasdaq lost 65.01 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,502.67. Smaller-company stocks bucked the broader market decline. The Russell 2000 index picked up 5.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,660.42.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.83 percent from 2.87 percent late Monday.

U.S. markets reopen on Thursday, and investors will have no shortage of reasons to snap out of the holiday lull by the end of the week.

On Friday the U.S. will start imposing a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. And China is expected to strike back with tariffs on a similar amount of U.S. exports.

“The market might get worked up about a tit-for-tat retaliation, which we’ll probably see,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “There’s a relatively low probability of an all-out trade war.”

The Trump administration has said it won’t target an additional $16 billion worth of Chinese goods until it gathers further public comments. It’s also identifying an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods for 10 percent tariffs, which could take effect if Beijing retaliates.

Uncertainty over U.S. trade policy has overhung the market since late February. The S&P 500 posted two consecutive weekly declines heading into this week.

Investors will also have their eye Friday on the Labor Department’s latest monthly jobs and wage report.

Analysts expect the report will show that hourly wages rose 2.8 percent last month. But if it comes in above 3 percent, that could be a bad day for the market, Wren said.

“The market is paying very close attention to wage pressure, very close attention to anything that’s going to hurt corporate margins, anything that’s going to make the Fed want to quicken the pace and magnitude of interest rate hikes,” Wren said.

Technology and bank stocks took some of the heaviest losses in Tuesday’s shortened trading session. Chip maker Micron Technology slumped 5.5 percent to $51.48, while Charles Schwab dropped 2.1 percent to $50.24.

Traders sent shares in Campbell Soup higher after the New York Post reported an activist investor is in talks with shareholders about potentially selling the company. The stock gained 1.8 percent to $41.03.

Crude oil futures declined after an early rally faded. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 9 cents to $73.85 a barrel in New York. The contract reached more than $75 a barrel in early trading. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 2 cents to $77.28 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 110.54 yen from 110.86 yen on Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1654 from $1.1610.

Gold rose $11.80, or 1 percent, to $1,253.50 an ounce. Silver gained 21 cents to $16.04 an ounce. Copper slipped 3 cents to $2.92 a pound.

Major stock indexes in Europe notched gains. Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent as German leaders put to rest fears that a weekslong dispute on migration may topple Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth government. France’s CAC 40 added 0.8 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5 percent.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 1.4 percent lower, while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its 1.5 percent benchmark interest rate unchanged.

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