The Associated Press
Stocks closed slightly lower on Wall Street Wednesday after an early rally fueled by optimism over the next round of trade talks between the U.S. and China lost momentum toward the end of the day.
The wobbly finish extended the S&P 500 index's losing streak to a fourth straight day, though the market is still on track to end the month with solid gains.
Losses in health care stocks, consumer goods makers and utilities offset solid gains in technology sector companies.
Stocks climbed in the morning after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that a trade deal between the two nations was "about 90%" done during recent negotiations. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at the G-20 summit this weekend and investors hope that talks will yield progress toward an agreement to resolve the costly trade war.
Initial optimism over the possibility of progress on trade helped drive up shares in technology stocks, particularly chipmakers. The sector is especially vulnerable to trade disruptions with China, the world's second largest economy.
The rally began to fade by midafternoon, however, as other sectors piled up losses.
"The market has pulled back its expectations in terms of when an agreement will be signed and is just focusing on whether or not they can continue on a viable path toward constructive negotiations," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
The S&P 500 index dropped 3.60 points, or 0.1%, to 2,913.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.40 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,536.82. The index had been up as much as 111 points.
The Nasdaq composite, heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 25.25 points, or 0.3%, to 7,909.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 3.26 points, or 0.2%, to 1,517.78.