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Stocks wobble on Wall Street a day after setting records

A street sign is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Stocks are off to a weak start on Wall Street as investors keep a cautious eye on Washington, where lawmakers appear to be getting close to an agreement on supplying more badly needed aid for the economy. The S&P 500 was down 0.1% in the first few minutes of trading Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks wobbled in morning trading as investors continue to balance hope for additional aid from Washington with a spike in virus cases that continues holding back a broad economic recovery.

The S&P 500 was mostly unchanged early Wednesday and is hovering just below its record high after a broad rally on Tuesday broke a four-day losing streak. Those gains pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq to a new record.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23 points, or 0.1%, to 30,176 as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.1%, just above its recent record high.

Smaller stocks continued making gains. The Russell 2000 index rose slightly and hovered around the record high it set a day earlier.

Fresh signs of cooperation on a new round of financial stimulus helped boost optimism that Democrats and Republicans might be able to move past their partisan bickering to strike a deal. Congress has been stuck in a stalemate for weeks over the size and scope of any additional aid.

At the same time, more evidence emerged that the economic recovery is stalling. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales fell 1.1% in November. The slump in spending comes amid rising unemployment as virus cases again surge and prompt tighter restrictions on businesses and people.

Wall Street has also been looking further ahead with optimism as vaccines for the virus start rolling out. So far, Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s coronavirus shots have gained emergency approval and are already being given to key health care workers. The Food and Drug Administration has given another vaccine, developed by Moderna, a positive analysis and could it be on a path to approval this week.

Distribution of vaccines to the wider population will likely take months, but more vaccines on the market will speed up the process and put the economy on a path to normalcy sooner.

Treasury yields rose in a sign that investors were becoming a bit more optimistic about the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.93% from 0.91% late Tuesday.

Investors also have been encouraged by signs that the European Union and United Kingdom may finally broker a trade deal following the UK’s departure from the bloc. Germany’s DAX rose 1.2% and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.2%. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.5%

Asian markets ended higher.