Stocks slow down after a record-setting run

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped Thursday — breaking a seven-day winning streak, its longest in 3½ years — though it remains a nudge away from its record high.

It was part of a pause for stock markets around the world, which have been on a torrid run thanks to an improving economy, stronger corporate earnings and hopes for more business-friendly policies from Washington. The dollar's value also slipped against rival currencies, and Treasury yields fell as bond prices rose.

The S&P 500 fell 2.03 points, or 0.1%, to 2,347.22. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 7.91 points, or less than 0.1%, to set another record at 20,619.77. The Nasdaq composite edged down 4.54 points, or 0.1%, to 5,814.90. Four stocks fell for every three that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts said it wasn't surprising to see stocks take a break after their long climb.

“The market has reacted quite strongly to the Trump reflation trade, deregulation and lower-tax comments over the last couple weeks,” said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “On top of that, we've had a pretty darn good earnings season. It just needs a little bit of a breather today.”

He said he still sees stocks as better investments than bonds.

The day's largest loss within the S&P 500 came from TripAdvisor, which fell 11% to $46.92 after reporting weaker revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected.

Avon Products, a direct seller of cosmetics, plunged 18.6% to $4.77 after reporting weaker-than-expected results. The company said the number of sales representatives, who are famous for selling its products door to door, slipped from a year earlier.

Long Beach health insurer Molina Healthcare dived 17.9% to $49.18 after it posted disappointing earnings, citing struggles in its government healthcare exchange business.

Read more: Molina Healthcare stock dives on 'clearly unacceptable' earnings »

Most companies, though, have been reporting stronger results for last quarter than Wall Street forecast.

Medical-waste company Stericycle jumped 7.7% to $83.35, the biggest gain in the S&P 500, after its earnings and revenue for the latest quarter topped analysts' estimates.

Cisco Systems advanced 2.4% to $33.60 and data-storage company NetApp climbed 4.2% to $40.56 after likewise reporting larger-than-expected profits.

Kate Spade leaped 14.7% to $22.56 after the handbag maker said it was considering options that could include a sale. Its stock traded around three-year lows in December.

Treasury yields pulled back, giving back some of their increases from prior days. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.45% from 2.50%. The two-year Treasury yield fell to 1.21% from 1.25%, and the 30-year yield fell to 3.05% from 3.08%.

Yields fell even as more encouraging reports on the economy arrived. Home builders broke ground on slightly more projects last month than economists expected, though activity was down from the prior month. A measure of manufacturing in the Philadelphia region suggested that growth is improving, and that figure also beat forecasts.

The reports followed two big ones Wednesday, which showed that rising optimism among shoppers may be translating into increased spending and that inflation is on the rise. Continued signs of gains in the economy and on inflation could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner or more quickly than investors had thought.

Stock markets around the world also slowed Thursday. In Europe, the French CAC 40 fell 0.5%, and the German DAX index and the British FTSE 100 both slipped 0.3%. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5%, the South Korean Kospi slipped 0.1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.5%.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 25 cents to settle at $53.36 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 10 cents to $55.65 a barrel. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil was flat at $1.63 a gallon and wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.52 a gallon.

Gold rose $8.50 to settle at $1,241.60 an ounce, silver rose 11 cents to $18.07 an ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $2.72 a pound.

The dollar fell to 113.21 yen from 114.26 yen. The euro rose to $1.0640 from $1.0591 and the British pound rose to $1.2490 from $1.2445. 

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UPDATES:

2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

8:25 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 6:50 a.m.

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