Disappointing earnings from a range of companies pushed the stock market lower on Thursday, giving major indexes their third loss this week.
Stocks reversed an early rise on Wall Street Monday as traders returned to worrying about the European economy.
Stocks fell Tuesday on Wall Street as investors fretted about the latest chapter in Europe's debt saga.
Wall Street on Wednesday celebrated Congress' vote to prevent sharp tax increases from hitting the economy and causing a recession this year, with the Dow Jones industrial average surging by 308 points. But economic gurus warned that the deal falls short of solving the nation's huge debt problems.
It may be a big if, but assuming Washington lawmakers can get past the "fiscal cliff," many analysts say that the outlook for stocks next year is good, as a recovering housing market and an improving jobs outlook helps the economy maintain a slow, but steady recovery.
Stocks ended the day little changed Wednesday after a rally prompted by the Federal Reserve's latest economic stimulus program fizzled out.
Even with ho-hum growth, the U.S. is starting to look like an outperformer in a world where Britain and the rest of Europe are in a double-dip recession, Japan is falling into what may be a triple-dip downturn, and some formerly robust emerging markets recently have slowed to a near-standstill.
The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start over the long weekend, with nearly 5 in 6 Americans making an appearance at the malls or visiting retailers online as rising spirits prompted an early hunt for bargains.
The stock market finally shook its post-election slump. Investors seized on hope that Washington will reach a deal on the federal budget and drove stocks to their biggest gain in two months. A pair of strong corporate earnings reports also helped.