Wall Street hits resistance as S&P dips down

US stocks edged lower yesterday, erasing earlier gains as the S&P 500 met resistance around its 50-day moving average, a level the index has not been able to close above for the past two weeks.

Among the S&P 500’s 10 sectors, the energy sector index rose 0.2 per cent after crude oil prices hit a nine-month high as turmoil in the Middle East unsettled investors.

The S&P’s industrial sector index fell 1.1 per cent and ranked as the biggest decliner.

The major US stock indexes traded higher until early afternoon, boosted by positive car sales and factory orders.

The S&P 500 rose as high as 1,624.26 early in the session.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.55 points, or 0.28 per cent, to end at 14,932.41.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dipped just 0.88 of a point, or 0.05 per cent, to finish at 1,614.08.

The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 1.09 points, or 0.03 per cent, to close at 3,433.40.

The CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s favourite barometer of investor anxiety, rose 0.4 per cent to 16.44.

The S&P 500 is 3.3 per cent below its 21 May record closing high of 1,669.16. Small caps have closed within a hair’s breadth of all-time highs reached in May.

The S&P Small-Cap 600 is about 0.8 per cent below its all-time closing high, and the Russell 2000 is 1.1 per cent below its best close.

About 6.1bn shares exchanged hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE, slightly below the daily average.