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Stock indexes slip off their recent highs amid jitters about Congress’s tax overhaul

Health care companies and banks drove stocks lower Thursday, pulling major indexes below their recent highs.

The afternoon slide came on news that some Republican senators’ support for the GOP’s proposed tax overhaul bill was faltering.

Small-company stocks, which would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the bill’s reduction of corporate income tax rates, declined more than the rest of the market.

‘‘The market is focused almost completely on the corporate tax reduction,’’ said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. ‘‘And there are still concerns that some of the key Republican senators are wavering.’’

The losses outweighed gains among retailers, which got a boost from a government report showing that retail sales jumped in November.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.4 percent, to 2,652.01. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.3 percent, to 24,508.66. The Nasdaq shed 0.3 percent, to 6,856.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1.2 percent, to 1,506.95.

Despite the declines, the indexes are all on track to finish the week with a gain.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said Thursday that he will vote against the proposed tax bill unless negotiators expand its child tax credit. The bill would increase the child tax credit to $2,000 from $1,000, but he wants more.

A spokesman for Utah Republican Mike Lee said the senator is undecided on the bill.

House and Senate leaders agreed on the bill in principle Wednesday but were still finalizing the legislation, which they plan to unveil Friday and then move it through the Senate next week.

Stock indexes had been moving higher earlier in the day after the Commerce Department said sales at retailers and restaurants jumped 0.8 percent last month. Sales in a category that mostly includes online shopping leapt 2.5 percent, while sales at electronics stores rose 2.1 percent. Furniture store sales increased 1.2 percent.


The report helped lift several retailers. Tiffany & Co. gained 3.4 percent, while Mattel added 4.2 percent.

Health care stocks accounted for much of the market’s losses. Medical care services company DaVita shed 3.2 percent.

Shares in several banks and other financial companies also declined. Navient fell 2.5 percent.

Pier 1 Imports’ latest outlook put investors in a selling mood. The home decor company slumped 29.5 percent after it cut its forecasts and said its business struggled in December.

Traders welcomed news that Disney agreed to buy a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock. Disney rose 2.8 percent. Fox was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing 6.5 percent.

Teva Pharmaceuticals was another big gainer. The Israeli drug maker jumped 10.2 percent after it said that it would lay off 14,000 workers, or more than a quarter of its staff, part of a global restructuring meant to salvage its ailing business.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 2.35 percent.

Bitcoin futures declined on their fourth day of trading, dropping 1.5 percent to $16,800 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $16,496 in trading on private exchanges, according to Coindesk.