Wall Street Wavers Ahead of Christmas

(AP) -- Stocks wavered between small gains and losses in muted trading on Wall Street Wednesday ahead of the Christmas holiday.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56 points, or 0.2%, to 35,548 and the Nasdaq was little changed.

The Russell 2000, a measure of small-company stocks, fell 0.2%. Indexes were mostly higher in Europe and Asia.

Every major U.S. index is still on track for weekly gains after a choppy several days where stocks bounced between sharp losses and solid gains. It is a shortened week for traders, with U.S. markets closed Friday in observance of Christmas.

A mix of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending gained ground.

Tesla rose 4.6% despite news that U.S. has opened a formal investigation into the potential for drivers to play video games on a center touch screen while the electric vehicle is in motion.

Hotel operators and other travel-related stocks also moved higher. Marriott rose 1.3%.

A mix of companies that make household goods and other consumer staples fell. Kroger shed 1.6%.

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.47% from 1.48% late Tuesday.

The latest surge in coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant has been hanging over markets, along with concerns about rising inflation and its impact on economic growth.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday said the U.S. economy grew at a 2.3% rate in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought. But prospects for a solid rebound going forward are being clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant of the coronavirus.

Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place. In the U.S., President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the government will provide rapid-test kits and increase vaccination efforts but gave no indication of plans for restrictions that might disrupt the economy.

Investors have also been busy shifting money between sectors as the close of the year approaches and they prepare for higher interest rates in 2022. The Federal Reserve has said it will hasten the process of cutting its bond purchases that have helped maintain low interest rates and that opens the door to rate increases from the central bank in 2022.