Sunday | December 17, 2017
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Modest gains push US stocks indexes to record highs

Gains by big technology and health care companies pushed U.S. stocks modestly higher Friday, lifting several major indexes to new highs.

The Standard &Poor’s 500 index, Dow Jones industrial average and Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks each set records as the market posted its third straight day of gains.

Energy companies helped lift the market as crude oil prices rose. High-dividend stocks like real estate companies and utilities also posted big gains following a drop in bond yields. The lower yields and a weak forecast from JPMorgan Chase weighed on banks. Financial stocks were the only sector in the S&P 500 to end lower.

Investors brushed off a report showing U.S. retail sales declined in June and drew encouragement from data indicating industrial production rebounded last month. Traders also welcomed a report showing inflation at the consumer level was flat in June, which suggests that the Federal Reserve may have more reason to delay another interest rate increase.

“The low inflation data will put the Fed more in a wait-and-see mode to really determine if the low inflationary environment is really transitory,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research.

The S&P 500 index gained 11.44 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,459.27. The Dow rose 84.65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 21,637.74. The average has hit a record high three days in a row. The Nasdaq composite added 38.03 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,312.47. The Russell 2000 index picked up 3.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,428.82.

Investors had a mix of company earnings and economic data to consider Friday. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.2 percent in June as Americans curtailed spending at restaurants, department stores and gasoline stations. That followed a 0.1 percent drop in May. In addition, the Federal Reserve said factory output rebounded in June as manufacturers churned out more cars, appliances and furniture.


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