The major domestic equity indexes managed to eke out a slight gain on Wednesday, as advances in some major technology stocks offset losses in energy and helped keep major indexes just above the unchanged mark.
The S&P technology index was up 0.2 percent and managed to snap a five-session losing streak, its longest since April. The sector was buoyed by gains in Facebook, up 0.9 percent, and Microsoft, up 0.4 percent.
Trading volumes remained muted in the holiday-shortened week between Christmas and New Year. Volume on Tuesday was the thinnest of the year for a full session.
Oil prices dipped after hitting a near two-and-a-half-year high in the previous session, pushing down the S&P energy index by 0.3 percent. ConocoPhillips, down 1.1 percent, and Chevron down 0.3 percent, were the largest drags on the index.
Housing stocks edged up 0.1 percent after data showed contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, the latest signal the housing market may have regained some momentum.
Tesla fell 1.8 percent after KeyBanc lowered its estimate for Model 3 deliveries to roughly 5,000 units from 15,000 units for the fourth quarter.
Shares of Energous rose 168.1 percent to $23.70 after it received certification for its wireless charging transmitter.
Approximately 4.36 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.79 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Pending Home Sales Rise
Contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, aided by job growth across a strengthening economy.
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its pending home sales index rose to a reading of 109.5, up 0.2 percent from October.
Pending home contracts are a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.
The housing sector has regained some momentum recently after treading water for much of the year because of a lack of inventory which has driven up prices, and both labor and land shortages.
Pending sales rose 0.8 percent in November from the same month of 2016, the first 12-month gain since June. Contracts rose 2.5 percent in the South from a year earlier. Sales also increased in the Northeast and Midwest while they fell 2.3 percent in the West.
Crude Slides Back Down
Crude oil prices fell on Wednesday after hitting a near two-and-a-half year high in the previous session as a rally fueled by supply outages in Libya and the North Sea ran out of momentum.
Brent crude futures fell to $66.62 a barrel, down 0.6 percent, or 40 cents, after breaking through $67 for the first time since May 2015 the previous day.
West Texas Intermediate futures were at $59.66 a barrel, down 30 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session.
On Tuesday, Libya lost around 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil supplies from a blast on a pipeline feeding Es Sider port. Repair of the pipeline could take about one week but will not have a major impact on exports, the head of Libyan state oil firm NOC told Reuters on Wednesday.
The Libyan outage added to supply disruptions of recent weeks, which also included the closure of Britain’s largest Forties pipeline.
On Wednesday, Forties was pumping at half its normal capacity and its operator was pledging to resume full flows in early January.
The Forties and Libyan outages, which together amount to around 500,000 bpd, are relatively small in a global context of both production and demand approaching 100 million bpd.
Oil markets have tightened significantly over the past year thanks to voluntary supply restraint led by OPEC and non-OPEC Russia.
Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that global oil markets gradually came into balance by 2016 and started to show a slight supply deficit this year following rampant oversupply in 2015. The data implied a shortfall of 180,000 bpd for the first quarter of 2018.
A major factor countering OPEC and Russia efforts to prop up prices is U.S. oil production, which has soared more than 16 percent since mid-2016 and is fast approaching 10 million bpd. The latest U.S. production figures are due to be published by the EIA on Thursday.