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Stocks edge up in light trading; Dow reaches new high

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.21 points, or 0.3%, to 24,837.51 on Thursday, its 71st record high this year. Above, the New York Stock Exchange.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.21 points, or 0.3%, to 24,837.51 on Thursday, its 71st record high this year. Above, the New York Stock Exchange.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

U.S. stock indexes wrung out a modest gain during another quiet session on Wall Street on Thursday, nudging the Dow Jones industrial average to a new high before the final trading day of 2017.

Financial stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. The sector benefited from rising bond yields, which help banks because it enables them to charge higher interest rates on loans.

Some energy stocks got a boost from natural gas prices, which jumped nearly 7% as temperatures dropped across much of the U.S. Crude oil prices also rose.

Consumer-goods makers lagged behind the broad rally.

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The stock market seldom declines this time of year, said John Serrapere, director of research at Arrow Funds.

“It’s a light, light, light calendar,” Serrapere said. “Normally between Christmas and New Year’s you get a positive, muted upslope in the markets.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.92 points, or 0.2%, to 2,687.54. The Dow rose 63.21 points, or 0.3%, to 24,837.51. The 30-company average has closed at a record high 71 times this year.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 10.82 points, or 0.2%, to 6,950.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 4.99 points, or 0.3%, to 1,548.93, matching its most recent all-time high set early last week.

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are hovering just below their all-time highs. All the indexes are on track to end 2017 with double-digit gains.

Bond prices fell as yields recovered partially from Wednesday’s big drop. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.43% from 2.41%.

That helped lift shares in banks and other financial companies. Northern Trust climbed 1.7% to $100.32.

The price of natural gas rose sharply — climbing 18 cents, or 6.7%, to $2.91 per 1,000 cubic feet — as an arctic blast gripped a large swath from the Midwest to the Northeast, sending temperatures plummeting.

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The increase gave some energy companies a boost. Chesapeake Energy was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing 4.1% to $4.04. Range Resources rose 3.8% to $17.61.

Netflix also contributed to the market’s gains. The video-streaming service advanced 3.5% to $192.71.

Several packaged food, beverage and other consumer-goods makers declined. Monster Beverage slid 2% to $62.92.

Traders also sold off shares in companies that delivered unimpressive results or outlooks.

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Calumet Specialty Products Partners tumbled 9% to $8.05 after the oil and solvents processor reported disappointing third-quarter results.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 20 cents to settle at $59.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 28 cents to $66.72 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil inched up a penny to $2.05 a gallon.

Gold rose $5.80 to $1,297.20 an ounce. Silver rose 17 cents, or 1%, to $16.92 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $3.31 a pound.

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The dollar fell to 112.87 yen from 113.26 yen. The euro rose to $1.1952 from $1.1899.

The price of bitcoin declined for the second day in a row, sliding 9% to $13,995 about 2 p.m. Pacific time, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange fell 8% to $13,755. South Korea’s government announced additional measures Thursday to curb speculative trading of virtual currencies in the country, including a ban on opening anonymous accounts.

Major indexes in Europe closed mostly lower. Germany’s DAX slipped 0.7%, and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.6%. Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up less than 0.1%, but the gain was enough for the index to close at a record high.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains and finished down 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi surged 1.3% after government data showed strong gains in retail sales and industrial output last month. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.9%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3%.

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UPDATES:

3:10 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 7:55 a.m.


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