US Stocks Slip Ahead of Early Close

(AP) -- Major U.S. stock indexes edged lower early Tuesday in muted trading ahead of an early close for the Christmas holiday.

Health care, industrial and communication services stocks led the slide. Johnson & Johnson slid 0.5%, Southwest Airlines dropped 0.9% and Verizon Communications fell 0.5%.

Those losses outweighed broad gains for retailers. Home Depot rose 0.6%, Nike added 0.5% and Ross Stores rose 0.8%.

Energy stocks also rose along with the price of crude oil. Occidental Petroleum gained 1.4%.

The modest pullback follows a strong winning streak for stocks that has propelled the major indexes to record highs this month. The benchmark S&P 500 index has finished with a weekly gain in 10 out of the past 11 weeks.

Rising optimism around a "Phase 1" trade deal announced earlier this month between the United States and China helped put investors in a buying mood in recent weeks. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times, and the central bank appears set to keep them low for a long time.

Still, as traders turn their attention to 2020, fears about the outlook for the global economy remain as do concerns over unresolved trade issues between Washington and Beijing. Next year also has the added complication of the U.S. presidential election.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 0.1% as of 10:23 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 28 points, or 0.1%, to 28,523, and the Nasdaq composite slipped less than 0.1%.

Markets are scheduled to close at 1:00 pm. Eastern time.

SHARE THIS: Uber rose 1.2% on news that ex-CEO Travis Kalanick will resign from the board next week, effectively severing ties with the ride-hailing company he co-founded a decade ago. Kalanick was ousted as CEO in the summer of 2017 with the company mired in numerous lawsuits.

The departure did not come as a surprise. Kalanick recently sold more than $2.5 billion worth of shares in the company, more than 90% of his holdings.

YIELDS: The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 1.92% from 1.93% late Monday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 32 cents to $60.84 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 38 cents at $65.80 per barrel.

MARKETS ABROAD: Stock markets in Europe were either closed or were open for limited hours Tuesday. Britain's FTSE 100 index closed 0.1% higher, while the CAC 40 in Paris ended flat. Both markets opened for only half the day, and will remain closed until Friday. Germany's DAX was closed for Christmas Eve and it won't reopen until Friday.

Major stock indexes in Asia finished mixed. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closed less than 0.1% higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2%. Seoul's Kospi declined 0.6%, while Sydney's S&P-ASX inched 0.1% higher. New Zealand and Singapore advanced, while Taiwan and India declined.