Stock Market Today: S&P Takes a Small Step Back From Recent Highs

A slow-news Tuesday led to a flat session for stocks, as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq declined while the Dow barely kept its head above water.

Concept art of a stock chart with a COVID virus behind it
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A day after a jubilant return from the holiday weekend, equity markets merely simmered in Tuesday's trading session.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday evening released new recommendations for those who have contracted COVID-19 (opens in new tab): most prominently, the agency reduced the suggested isolation time for asymptomatic carriers from 10 days to five. However, Wall Street seemed uninterested in this new development and had little other omicron-related news to glom onto.

The only economic data point of note was the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home-price index, which showed that home prices jumped by 19.1% in October – still a high rate of growth, though a slower pace of expansion for the third consecutive month. Housing shares responded with a shrug.

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Investors did lean toward safety plays, though, with utility stocks (opens in new tab) (+0.9%) and consumer staples (opens in new tab) (+0.6%) finishing as Tuesday's top sector performers.

The S&P 500 took a 0.1% step back from Monday's record highs, to 4,786, while the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.6% to 15,781. The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued the "Santa Claus rally" for now, however, edging 0.3% higher to 36,398.

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stock chart for 122821

(Image credit: YCharts)

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 closed off 0.7% to 2,246.
  • U.S. crude oil futures managed to follow up on Monday's gains, settling up 0.5% to $75.98 per barrel.
  • Gold futures eked out a 0.1% gain to $1,810.90 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin took a big step back Tuesday, dropping 6.7% to $47,817.10. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)

Industrials: A Value for 2022

Do you like bargain-priced stocks (opens in new tab)? You'll be happy to know that the "smart money" is very much on your side heading into 2022.

Among the research shops tapping out a steady drumbeat of bullish value calls is Janus Henderson Investors:

"If GDP continues to expand as we expect in 2022 (short-term setbacks notwithstanding) and interest rates inch higher, value-oriented sectors … might once again take the lead," their strategists say. Among them? Materials (opens in new tab) and financials (opens in new tab), which we've shared with readers of late.

But Janus also expects industrial stocks to get a lift. The logic holds – economic growth typically benefits the sector, but in 2022, component makers, equipment manufacturers, engineering firms and other industrials will also benefit as spending from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is parceled out.

Stock pickers can start studying the space with our 2022 guide to the industrial sector: a selection of 12 highly rated shares that boast promising prospects for the year to come.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.