By Daniel Shvartsman
Investing.com - Major U.S. indices closed lower in a late dip on the last day of 2021, a muted finish to a full volume year.
The S&P 500 finished at 4766, down .26%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 60 points or .16%, and the NASDAQ Composite traded down 97 points, or .6% lower. The small-cap Russell 2000 ended down .15%.
In a year that was anything but typical, the last week of the year stuck to more traditional form; indices rose for the week and volumes and news flow dropped. The S&P 500 finished up .9% for the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite bucked the trend, dropping -.1% for the week.
The biggest action on the day remained at airports, as flight cancellations continued at a high pace, with over 1,000 flights canceled. Investors in the airlines themselves seemed unbothered, with Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE: DAL ) (.13%) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) (.3%) closing higher, while United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL ) (-.8%) and American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL ) (-.6%) sold off.
Covid cases continue to set all-time highs, and with New Year celebrations in the offing, many officials are bracing for another jump from here. At the same time, the U.K. approved the use of Pavloxid, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE )'s antiviral pill for Covid-19 treatment, for adults, and South Africa took off their curfew requirements. It seems accepted that the omicron variant spreads faster and is less severe, but the magnitude of those distinctions is left to be discovered in 2022.
Pfizer was among the leaders on the S&P 500, ending the day up 1%. Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F ) also traded higher, up 1.6%, a strong finish to a year that saw the automaker among the top stocks on the S&P 500. Mohawk Industries Inc (NYSE: MHK ) had a strong day, trading up 2.5%. On the downside, Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL ) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NYSE: NCLH ) were down 2% and 1.2% respectively, as the CDC advised people not to take cruises due to Covid risk, regardless of vaccination status. Discovery Inc Class A (NASDAQ: DISCA ) traded down 3.7% and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) traded 2.8% lower as the media and social media plays appear set to end a tough year on a losing note. Meta Platforms also sold off, dropping 2.3%.
Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON ) dropped 3.8% after another analyst downgrade warning of a slow December quarter for the exercise equipment maker. Fellow 2020 winner and 2021 laggard Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM ) was also down 3.5%. PACCAR Inc (NASDAQ: PCAR ) was among the Nasdaq 100 winners, up 1%. Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL ) pared losses, closing the day down .8%, as it faced power outages in Northern Colorado due to raging wildfires.
Among smaller stocks, Nutriband Inc (NASDAQ: NTRB ) finished up 158% after receiving a patent from Korea for its lead technology, AVERSA.
Crude Oil WTI Futures closed the day down 2.3% at $75.21/barrel, though they still finished with 55% gains for the year, the best year for oil since 2009. Brent Oil Futures dropped 1.8% to $77.85/barrel, good for a 51% gain on the year, its biggest year since 2016.
Gold Futures rose .8% to finish at $1828.60/oz, but still finished the year down 4% despite the market focus on inflation, marking the yellow metal's worst year since 2015.
For the year, the S&P 500 posted a total return of 29%, while the Nasdaq closed up 22%, the Dow up 21%, and the Russell up just shy of 15%. For the first time in two decades, the S&P 500 saw each of its 11 sectors finish with double-digit gains for the year.
Read our Year in Review here, and our full outlook for 2022 here. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
(Originally published at 9:16am ET, will be updated throughout the day).
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