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S&P 500 and Dow rise to new highs, but tech stocks fall

S&P 500 and Dow rise to new highs, but tech stocks fall
A Christmas tree stands outside the New York Stock Exchange. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Big-name companies notched gains on Wall Street on Tuesday, bringing the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average to new highs for the second day this week.

A slide in technology stocks pulled the Nasdaq down. Small-company stocks also lagged.

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Banks and other financial stocks led the gainers as the Federal Reserve met to discuss interest rates. The Fed is expected to raise rates for the third time this year Wednesday, which would enable banks to charge more to lend money.

Technology stocks declined the most. Energy stocks fell along with crude oil prices. Bitcoin futures fell on their second day of trading.

The S&P 500 index rose 4.12 points, or 0.2%, to 2,664.11. The Dow rose 118.77 points, or 0.5%, to 24,504.80. The Nasdaq fell 12.76 points, or 0.2%, to 6,862.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 3.72 points, or 0.2%, to 1,516.12. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

“It’s another day, another all-time high,” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.

Even though inflation has remained low, the Federal Reserve has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened. The central bank is widely expected to announce a 0.25% increase in short-term interest rates Wednesday, and investors will be listening for any hints that the Fed could raise rates faster next year.

“There’s a chance at the meeting tomorrow they’re going to be showing four rate hikes next year in their forecast as opposed to three, where it had been in September,” Nick said. “So this is seen as a not just sort of a one-off hike like we’ve had in the past, but a continuation of a quarterly cadence of rate hikes.”

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will have policy announcements Thursday. Neither is expected to change rates, leaving the focus on their economic forecasts.

The prospect of another short-term interest rate hike helped lift bank shares. Goldman Sachs Group rose 3% to $257.68.

Corporate earnings, outlooks and deal news also helped move markets Tuesday.

Several shopping mall owners advanced after Australian company Westfield agreed to be bought by France’s Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7 billion. Macerich climbed 5% to $66.47. Simon Property Group rose 2.5% to $166.35. GGP ticked up 1.6% to $23.77.

Comcast rose 2.8% to $39.51 after the Wall Street Journal reported that the cable TV and entertainment company was no longer in talks to buy parts of 21st Century Fox.

Urban Outfitters edged up 0.3% to $32.38 after the retailer issued a positive update on its fourth-quarter sales.

Casey’s General Stores slumped 11.6% to $107.18 after its second-quarter profit fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Edison International slid 6% to $68.58 after the utility said it believes authorities are looking into the possibility that wildfires in California started at one of its facilities.

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Technology stocks, which have been the best-performing sector this year with a gain of 37%, made up a big portion of the laggards. Micron Technology fell 2.7% to $41.86.

Seagate Technology, however, climbed 4.1% to $42.12 after the maker of electronic storage said it will eliminate 500 jobs and cut about $65 million in additional annual spending.

Energy prices fell. Benchmark U.S. crude slid 85 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $57.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard for oil, sank $1.35, or 2.1%, to $63.34 a barrel in London.

The decline in oil prices weighed on energy sector stocks. Cabot Oil & Gas retreated 2.6% to $27.60.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.70 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas sank 15 cents, or 5.3%, to $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $5.20, or 0.4%, to $1,241.70 an ounce. Silver fell 12 cents to $15.67 an ounce. Copper rose a penny to $3.02 a pound.

The dollar rose to 113.58 Japanese yen from 113.52 yen. The euro fell to $1.1737 from $1.1786.

Bitcoin futures fell $525, or 2.8%, to $18,020 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures enabled investors to make bets on the future price of the virtual currency. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $17,246 in late-afternoon trading on private exchanges, according to CoinDesk. The price of the digital currency has soared this year; it began 2017 under $1,000.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.41% from 2.39%.

Major stock indexes in Europe rose. Germany’s DAX gained 0.5%, the CAC 40 of France added 0.8% and Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6%.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.4%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong shed 0.6%. The S&P ASX 200 added 0.3%. India’s Sensex dropped 0.7%. Other regional markets were mostly lower.

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