Investing.com - Stocks moved modestly higher Tuesday but still closed at new highs Tuesday thanks to strong reports on housing starts and manufacturing. The market's positive finish was its fifth in a row.
The S&P 500 finished up 0.03% after hitting a new intraday peak of 3,198.22. The Dow Jones industrials added 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100, up 0.06%, hit a new intraday high.
The market opened higher but slowly gave up more than half its early gains over the course of the session.
Still, the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq are now looking at four-straight months of gains en route to their best annual performances since 2013.
Helping stocks were bullish reports on housing starts in November and factory output. The housing report from the Commerce Department showed single-family starts are up nearly 17% year over year and offers a big reason a National Association of Home Builders survey on Monday showed builder confidence at the highest levels since 1999.
Factory output rebounded by more than forecast in November,the Federal Reserve said. It also rose excluding a surge in auto production following the end of the General Motors (NYSE:GM) strike, Bloomberg News noted.
Financial, consumer discretionary and utility stocks were the top S&P 500 sectors. Real estate, technology and health care were the weakest.
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) was a big winner among communications services companies after releasing data showing growth in international markets. Its 3.7% gain on the day was tops among Nasdaq 100 stocks and second best among S&P 500 stocks.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) were among the health sector's larger losers.
After the close, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) shares tumbled more than 6% after reporting weaker-than-expected earnings. The package-delivery company also cut its 2020 guidance, citing lower-than-expected revenue in all its transportation segments and higher-than-expected expenses. The latter issue is driven by a continued mix shift to residential delivery services.
The shares fell 0.5% ahead of the report. If the after-hours loss holds on Wednesday, FedEx's year-to-date gain will be wiped out. The stock is the weakest performer among components in the Dow Jones Transportation average, which is up about 18% this year.
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) were among the top Dow stocks. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was up slightly after a new intraday high.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) was flat. Late Monday, the company announced it will shut down production of its 737 Max airliner while it awaits government recertification.
United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), a key supplier, was among the biggest Dow losers.
While five days of gains will cheer bulls, the stock market has been opening fast each day and giving back a sizable portion of its early gains. That suggests some unease about how the market will perform in the longer term, especially with the on-going U.S.-China negotiations, impeachment and the prospect of a vitriolic U.S. election in the fall.
A few technical indicators suggest the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are closing in on near-term tops.
Oil prices were higher with WTI futures finishing above $60 a barrel for a third-straight day. Its close of $61.94 a barrel was its highest since mid-September, but gains were pared after the API reported a sizable rise in weekly inventories.
Brent crude was up 76 cents to $66.10.
Chemical producer Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), fertilizer producer Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) and oil-and-gas producer Cimarex Energy (NYSE:XEC) were among the day's top S&P 500 stocks.
Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), telecom company CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), and pharmaceutical distributors AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC) and McKesson Corporation (NYSE:MCK) were among the day's weakest S&P 500 stocks.
Interest rates were mostly lower. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.877% from 1.889% on Monday.
Gold was flat, but palladium prices tumbled $45 to $1,918.60 an ounce.