NEW YORK - Wall Street ended a wobbly session with a mixed performance Wednesday as concerns about the financial sector eroded enthusiasm over a decline in oil prices and a report that signaled modest growth in the service economy.
The worries about financial companies flared after Moody’s Investors Service warned it might downgrade the ratings on bond insurers Ambac Assurance Corp. and MBIA Insurance Corp.Some investors looking to sidestep the troubled financial sector moved into technology stocks, giving the Nasdaq composite index the biggest advance of the major indexes. The bifurcated trading follows two straight sessions of selling that left the
Dow Jones industrial average down 235 points.
But the decline in oil at times appeared to help lift market sentiment. Light, sweet crude fell $2.01 to settle at $122.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the Energy Department reported that demand for gasoline receded last week and that fuel inventories jumped more than expected. Still, retail gas prices advanced to a fresh record above $3.98 a gallon.
And the Tempe-based Institute for Supply Management’s service sector index came to 51.7 percent for May; while any reading above 50 signals economic expansion, the figure is down from 52 in April.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.37, or 0.10 percent, to 12,390.48.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.45, or 0.03 percent, to 1,377.20, while the Nasdaq rose 22.66, or 0.91 percent, to 2,503.14.
Bond prices fell as stocks advanced.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.98 percent in late trading on Wednesday from 3.89 percent.