Stocks pull below record but still end best month this year

FILE - In this March 23, 2021 file photo, pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York's Financial District.   Stocks are pulling back in the early going on Wall Street, easing the S&P 500 below the record high it set a day earlier. The index is still on track to close out its third solid monthly gain in a row. It was down 0.5% in the first few minutes of trading Friday, April 30, and technology and communications stocks were doing the most damage.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
FILE - In this March 23, 2021 file photo, pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York's Financial District. Stocks are pulling back in the early going on Wall Street, easing the S&P 500 below the record high it set a day earlier. The index is still on track to close out its third solid monthly gain in a row. It was down 0.5% in the first few minutes of trading Friday, April 30, and technology and communications stocks were doing the most damage. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TOKYO – Stocks gave back some of their recent gains Friday, though the market still closed out April with its biggest monthly gain so far this year.

The S&P 500 fell 0.7% as investors backed away from technology, financial and communication stocks. Despite the decline, the benchmark index ended April with a 5.2% gain, its best month since November 2020, when President Joe Biden was elected.

Under Biden, the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched its best first 100 days under a new president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, according to LPL Financial, with a 9.9% return as of April 29. The Dow delivered a 6.1% return during former President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.

The gains have come as large-scale coronavirus vaccination programs help people return to jobs and normal behaviors after more than a year of restrictions.

“It’s been a very solid month for global equities across the board,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors. “Periods of pullbacks are definitely expected when you have valuations run so much.”

The S&P 500, which hit an all-time high a day earlier, fell 30.30 points to 4,181.17. The index eked out a gain of less than 0.1% for the week. The Dow fell 185.51 points, or 0.5%, to 33,874.85 and the Nasdaq lost 119.86 points, or 0.9%, to 13,962.68.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fared worse than the broader market. It fell 29.01 points, or 1.3%, to 2,266.45.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, massive support from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve, and increasingly positive economic data have been driving expectations for a strong rebound for the economy and robust corporate profit growth this year. That’s helped stocks push higher and kept indexes near their all-time highs.