NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks fell in morning trading as investors eased off a fresh set of record highs reached on optimism that coronavirus vaccines could soon start driving a stronger economic recovery.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% just a day after opening December with a bang. It closed at a record high of 3,662.45 on Tuesday.
The Nasdaq composite, which also opened the month with a new record, shed 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 73 points, or 0.3%, to 29750 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time.
Technology companies were the biggest drag on the market. Salesforce.com sunk 8.6% after announcing a deal late Tuesday to buy messaging platform Slack for $27.7 billion. Microsoft fell 1.1%. The sector has been leading the market higher since the pandemic started wreaking havoc on the global economy, but hopes for a vaccine and return to economic normalcy have been shifting money toward companies whose profits are more closely tied to the economy's strength.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they've won permission for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, the world's first coronavirus shot that's backed by rigorous science and a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. The move makes Britain one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population against the virus. The companies have already asked for approval to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December.
Meanwhile, Moderna is also asking U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The positive developments on the vaccine front are helping to lift health care stocks. Pfizer Inc. rose 3.3% and insurer UnitedHealth Group rose 1.4%.
Treasury yields rose and gave banks a boost because they allow them to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.95% from 0.92% late Tuesday. Bank of America rose 1.1% and Citigroup rose 1.4%.
Germany's DAX shed 0.6% and France's CAC 40 fell 0.4%. In Britain, the FTSE 100 rose 1%. Markets in Asia were mixed.