Belfast Telegraph

Nasdaq sets another record, but energy stocks hold back other indexes

The Nasdaq composite index has hit another record, but a drop by energy stocks held other indexes back.

It was the third straight day that the Nasdaq notched an all-time high, but each of those has been by only a marginal amount.

Stocks have been stuck in a largely listless trading pattern in recent weeks, as investors see few reasons to make big moves in either direction.

The Nasdaq rose 17.93 points, or 0.3%, to 6,120.59. The Standard & Poor's 500 index bobbed around its own record through the day, before losing momentum in the last half hour.

It slipped 2.46 points, or 0.1%, to 2,396.92.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.50 points, or 0.2%, to 20,975.78, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks ticked up by 0.22 points, or less than 0.1%, to 1,391.86.

Markets have been placid the last two weeks, and the biggest one-day move for the S&P 500 during that span has been 0.6%, as investors keep crossing off reasons to fear.

Last week's solid jobs report gave reassurance that the US economy is improving despite a weak showing at the start of the year.

Companies have been turning in a series of stronger-than-expected profit reports, which has tempered concerns that stocks have grown too expensive relative to earnings.

And the recent presidential election in France raised confidence that voters may be turning their back on a nationalistic brand of politics that could hurt global trade.

"This is almost like the post-celebration letdown," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management.

"Everyone is just relaxing, trying to figure out what direction to go next."

The day's biggest excitement involved energy stocks, which deepened their losses for the year.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 lost 0.9%, tied for most among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

They're now down 10.8% for 2017, when the S&P 500 is up 7.1%.

The sector followed the price of oil lower. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 55 cents to settle at 45.88 US dollars (£35) per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 61 cents to 48.73 US dollars (£38) per barrel.

High-dividend stocks were also weak. Utilities in the S&P 500 lost 0.9%, while telecoms fell 0.6%.