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The decline during the overnight and premarket hours in the S&P 500 index futures set a bearish tone for the day’s action, yet again.

Despite the release of stronger-than-expected US retail sales data for December at 8:30am EST, which showed a 0.6% increase vs. 0.4% expected, the bears maintained control, cutting through any bullish optimism.

Soon after the regular session open, the bulls briefly instigated a choppy rally, but their efforts were stymied by resistance at 4776. This led to a subsequent decline, with the index reaching a low of 4746.25. The day continued to be defined by a series of lower highs, as the index struggled to sustain gains and failed to retest the 4776 level.

In the final two hours, the bulls were once again able to instigate a choppy rally to bring the index back up from the low. Despite this late effort, the index closed down by 27.25 handles, finishing the day at 4771.25, below resistance set in the morning.

Among the top S&P 500 components, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) emerged as the biggest gainer. The healthcare company saw its stock rise by $5.79 or 1.12%, ending the day at $524.94.

This outperformed the cash index’s loss of 0.56% by over one percent.

On the other side of the spectrum, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) continued its recent decline, becoming the session’s biggest loser among the top components. The electric vehicle manufacturer’s stock fell by $4.36 or 1.98%, closing at $215.55.