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Most stocks fall, but Nasdaq index sets another record high

Most stocks fall, but Nasdaq index sets another record high
A Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange. (Jin Lee / Associated Press)

A subdued day of trading on Wall Street ended Tuesday with stocks closing mostly lower even as the Nasdaq composite index notched another record high.

Utilities, phone companies and other stocks that pay high dividends were among the biggest decliners. Energy stocks fell along with a drop in the price of crude oil. Technology companies climbed the most. Financials eked out a small gain.

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Investors sized up the latest crop of company earnings and new data on home construction and industrial production.

"The economic data that we've seen today is sort of what we've seen the last few weeks, some good, some bad," said Jim Davis, regional investment strategist at the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 1.65 points, or 0.1%, to 2,400.67. The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 2.19 points, or 0.01%, to 20,979.75. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 20.20 points, or 0.3%, to 6,169.87. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 each hit new highs Monday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose 0.76 points, or 0.1%, to 1,394.68. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

The stock indexes spent much of Tuesday trading in a narrow range, wavering between small gains and losses.

The Federal Reserve provided some positive economic news, reporting that industrial production at U.S. factories, mines and utilities shot up 1% in April from March. That's the biggest gain since February 2014 and the third straight monthly gain. The increase was more than twice what economists expected.

A separate report on residential construction was less encouraging.

The Commerce Department said home construction fell for a second straight month in April, marking the slowest pace in five months. Housing starts slid 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units. The weakness was led by a big drop in construction of apartments, a volatile sector.

Although disappointing, the report didn't appear to weigh much on the market. Most home builders closed higher, led by LGI Homes, which rose 3.9% to $33.95.

Traders also had their eye on the latest crop of quarterly results from companies.

Home Depot rose 0.6% to $158.26 after beating expectations for profit and revenue in the first quarter. The home-improvement retailer also raised its profit outlook for the year.

"Home-improvement and beauty retailers are really where the strength is within the retail sector, and, of course, online," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA.

Online and mobile media services company Sina jumped 17.8% to $99.04 after issuing an improved quarterly report card.

Several companies that delivered disappointing results fell sharply.

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Dick's Sporting Goods slumped 13.7% to $41.04. Apparel and home fashions retailer TJX slid 4.1% to $73.76.

Staples fell 3.5% to $8.99 after the office supply chain reported revenue for the latest quarter that fell far short of expectations.

Etsy leaped 21.3% to $13.73 after two private equity firms disclosed a combined 8% stake in the online crafts site.

Advanced Micro Devices was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The chipmaker surged 11.7% to $12.75.

Energy prices declined Tuesday. They had risen Monday on news that a group of oil-producing countries had cut production in hopes of supporting the price of oil.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 19 cents to $48.66 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 17 cents to $51.65 a barrel.

The price of oil has swung sharply in recent years, from more than $100 three years ago to less than $30 last year, as concerns rise and fall that supplies will overwhelm demand.

Natural gas fell 12 cents, or 3.6%, to $3.23 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.52 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.60 a gallon.

Gold rose $6.40 to $1,236.40 an ounce. Silver rose 13 cents to $16.69 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.55 a pound.

The dollar fell to 113.03 yen from Monday's 113.68 yen. The euro rose to $1.1095 from $1.0978.

Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.33%.

Major stock indexes in Europe were mixed. Germany's DAX was flat, France's CAC-40 was down 0.2%, and London's FTSE 100 rose 0.9%. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 and Seoul's Kospi each gained 0.2%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.1%.

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UPDATES:

3:45 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

1:20 p.m.: This article was updated with the close of markets.

7:55 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.

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