Stock Market Today: Tesla Keeps S&P 500, Nasdaq in the Red

Tesla suspended production at its Shanghai factory earlier than anticipated amid reports of spiking COVID cases among workers.

Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was a wobbly start to the final trading week of 2022, with stocks finishing mixed following the long holiday weekend. Investor sentiment got a temporary boost after China said it would open its borders to international travelers next month without requiring them to quarantine. 

Still, it wasn't enough to offset a continued slump in Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab)) shares and a selloff in air carrier stocks. 

The news from China was a positive catalyst for a number of U.S.-listed Chinese shares. Among those that caught a lift were e-commerce stocks Alibaba Group (BABA (opens in new tab), +4.9%) and Pinduoduo (PDD (opens in new tab), +1.4%). 

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However, while those stocks closed higher on China's push to end its restrictive COVID measures that have slowed economic growth, Tesla slumped 11.4% on news the electric vehicle maker suspended production at its Shanghai production facility earlier than anticipated, according to a Reuters report (opens in new tab). The company previously said it would halt activity at the facility for eight days beginning Dec. 25, but ended production a day early, with some pointing to spiking COVID cases among its factory workers. TSLA stock is now down 44% so far this month. 

Adding to the market's headwinds was a selloff in several U.S. transportation stocks after a deadly nationwide winter storm sparked thousands of flight cancellations. Southwest Airlines (LUV (opens in new tab)) canceled roughly 70% of its flights on Monday and another 63% of flights on Tuesday, sending its shares tumbling 6.0%. Fellow air carriers Delta Air Lines (DAL (opens in new tab), -0.8%) and American Airlines Group (AAL (opens in new tab), -1.4%) also closed lower.

As for the major market indexes, the S&P 500 Index fell 0.4% to 3,829 and the Nasdaq Composite gave back 1.4% to 10,353. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, managed to gain 0.1% to 33,241 on strength in Verizon Communications (VZ (opens in new tab), +2.2%).

Top Investing Ideas for 2023

As we have mentioned in this space before, the stock market is on track to close out its worst year since 2008. And while that fact alone can weigh on investor sentiment heading into the new year, there are a number of historical data points that should give investors hope as we enter 2023. 

For one, there is "the spotless track record for the S&P 500 in the year following midterm elections (average return ~13%)," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist at the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, in the 18 times the S&P 500 has ended the year down more than 1% since 1946, it has been higher the next year 78% of the time, averaging a nearly 15% annual gain, Reinking says. 

So, despite the numerous challenges investors face in the new year, including uncertainty over inflation, interest rates and a possible recession, there are solid portfolio choices they can make to help maneuver these hurdles. These include picking the best dividend stocks or analysts' highest-conviction small-cap stocks – the latter of which are priced for outstanding returns in the new year. There's also our list of the best stocks to buy for 2023, which include high-quality companies that are well positioned to traverse the ongoing market disruptors we expect to see in the new year.  

Karee Venema
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger.com

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at Kiplinger.com. She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.