New record for Dow Jones as banks and tech companies boost US stocks
Banks and technology companies led US stocks to modest gains on Thursday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to its second record close in two days.
Big retail chains and other consumer-focused stocks were among the gainers.
Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil increased, while phone companies and utilities lagged the market.
"We're continuing to hit record highs," said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. "It is a resilient market, impervious to whatever comes out of Washington."
The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 4.58 points, or 0.2%, to 2,447.83. The Dow rose 20.95 points, or 0.1%, to 21,553.09. The Nasdaq composite added 13.27 points, or 0.2%, to 6,274.44.
The major indexes are all on pace to end the week with gains.
Trading was mostly subdued for much of the day as investors weighed new economic data on applications for unemployment benefits and prices at the wholesale level.
Overall, investors were focused on the coming wave of corporate earnings.
"Markets are really biding their time until we get into tomorrow's more robust earnings releases," said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager for Private Wealth Management at US Bank.
Banks and other financials stocks posted the largest gains.
The gains among financial companies came as investors looked ahead to Friday, when several big banks, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo release their second-quarter results.
"Banks certainly operate a bit in their own orbit, but at the same time financials globally are a proxy for the overall economy. Investors are definitely looking to see how those come out," Mr Davidson said.
Traders will be focused on companies' latest quarterly earnings for the next few weeks. The market expects earnings per share growth of about 7% from companies in the S&P 500.
Delta Air Lines released its earnings on Thursday. Its shares slid 1.8% after the company reported a smaller profit and less revenue than analysts expected.
Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen's second day testifying before Congress did not generate any major market-moving news.
Appearing before a Senate committee, she spoke about the dual risks of inflation: prices rising too slowly and prices accelerating too quickly.
Her comments appeared to be an effort to modify the impact of her comments before a House committee on Wednesday.
The House remarks were seen as signalling that the Fed might slow the pace of rate hikes if inflation does keep falling below the Fed's 2% target.
Those remarks assuaged concerns among some traders that the Fed was raising interest rates too quickly in the face of stalling inflation and sluggish US economic growth, setting off a broad market rally.