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Dow Jones industrial average inches further into record territory

The Dow Jones industrial average inched further into record territory on Thursday, eking out a gain while the broader US market indexes drifted lower.

The Dow's gain came a day after closing above 20,000 for the first time.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite posted small losses, snapping two days of consecutive record highs.

More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Financial stocks led the gainers, while health care companies lagged the most.

With about 30% of the companies in the S&P 500 index serving up earnings this week, the quarterly report cards continued to be a focus for investors on Thursday.

The S&P 500 index fell 1.69 points, or 0.1 % , to 2,296.68. The Nasdaq slid 1.16 points, or 0.02 % , to 5,655.18. The Dow rose 32.40 points, or 0.2 % , to 20,100.91.

Small-company stocks did worse than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 lost 6.84 points, or 0.5%, to 1,375.60.

It has been a record-making week on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq composite closed at all-time highs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Dow, which tracks 30 major industrial companies, added its own milestone Wednesday after it breached the 20,000 mark for the first time.

The market is getting a boost from strong company earnings and investor optimism that the Trump administration's policies on taxes, regulation and trade will be good for business.

On Thursday, the stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses for most of the day as investors sized up the latest company earnings news.

Several companies got a boost after they reported results that exceeded Wall Street's expectations, including Sherwin-Williams.

The paint and coatings company also said it expects to complete its 11.3 billion dollar purchase of Valspar within 90 days after making a relatively small divestiture. The stock gained 21.58 dollars, or 7.6%, to 305 dollars.

Traders welcomed an optimistic 2017 forecast and good bookings from Royal Caribbean Cruises. The cruise operator's stock jumped 7.97 dollars, or 9.1%, to 95.64 dollars.

New Commerce Department data indicating sales of new US homes fell 10.4% in December did not weigh on PulteGroup.

The homebuilder's quarterly earnings and sales beat financial analysts' estimates, lifting its shares 74 cents, or 3.6%, to 21.18 dollars.

United Rentals led the gainers in the S&P 500. The equipment rentals company announced it would acquire construction company NES Rentals for 965 million dollars. United Rentals vaulted 12.80 dollars, or 11.2%, to 127.06 dollars.

A slump in toy sales over the holidays dampened Mattel's latest results. The toymaker was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 5.57 dollars, or 17.7%, to 25.99 dollars.

Investors also were put off by McKesson's fiscal third-quarter results, which were hurt by weaker-than-expected prices. McKesson lost 12.55 dollars, or 8.3%, to 138.55 dollars.

Whirlpool tumbled 8.5% after the appliance maker said Britain's impending departure from the European Union hurt its profits. The stock fell 16.26 dollars to 173.94 dollars.

Beyond the ongoing wave of company earnings reports, investors will be looking on Friday to a key gauge of the US economy's health when the Commerce Department delivers its estimate of what the nation's gross domestic product was in the final quarter of 2016.

Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield slid to 2.50% from 2.52% late Wednesday.

AP

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