Dow Clinches Third Straight Record Close

By Michael Wursthorn Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its third record close of the week Thursday, even as other major U.S. indexes edged lower.

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Stocks hovered between small gains and losses for much of the day, marking a pause after the Dow industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit fresh highs together two consecutive sessions in a row.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have lessened somewhat, and political gridlock in Washington has appeared to ease, helping stocks generally climb this week.

Still, some investors said they are avoiding new bets while they wait for clarity on a number of potential risks -- including signs of rising inflation, a coming Republican tax proposal and the start of the next earnings season.

"The market continues to hit all-time highs, yet there are a myriad of excuses for it to sell off," said Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. "Until we get to the next earnings season and see a draft of the tax proposal, markets may cool."

The Dow industrials rose 45.30 points, or 0.2%, to 22203.48 -- its 38th record of the year.

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The S&P 500 declined 2.75 points, or 0.1%, to 2495.62, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 31.10 points, or 0.5%, to 6429.08.

United Technologies and Boeing were among the biggest contributors to the Dow industrials' climb, adding roughly 42 points to the index on Thursday.

Shares of United Technologies rose $2.86, or 2.6%, to $113.14 after The Wall Street Journal reported that questions are surfacing over how antitrust authorities will treat its deal for Rockwell Collins. Boeing extended its gains from Wednesday, rising 3.30, or 1.4%, to 245.23, after it increased 2019 production estimates for its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.

Declines in consumer-discretionary shares weighed on the S&P 500, with Tiffany falling 4.56, or 4.8%, to 90.95 and Nordstrom falling 1.00, or 2.1%, to 46.74.

Meanwhile, energy stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.4%, heading toward their biggest one-week gain since September 2016. U.S. crude for October delivery rose 1.2% to $49.89, logging its fourth consecutive session of gains, as data pointed to falling global oil supplies and stronger demand.

Many investors continue to debate the durability of the market's run, with some arguing strong earnings and economic growth will continue to support stocks, and others saying the rally's length makes them nervous. Future interest-rate hikes could add to volatility in the stock market, investors and analysts said.

"We're entering more and more into an environment where you may want to avoid passive investments," said Tom Stringfellow, chief investment officer of Frost Investments. "The risk is there, which could be a larger-than-expected rate hike or some significant geopolitical event."

Investors' expectations for an interest-rate increase jumped Thursday after data showed U.S. consumer prices rose last month by the most since January.

Federal-funds futures, used by investors to place bets on the Fed's rate-policy outlook, showed Thursday a roughly 55% chance of a rate increase by the end of the year, up from 31% a week ago, according to data from CME Group. Muted inflation readings throughout the year have made many investors question the Fed's plans to move forward with normalizing monetary policy.

"We're at a tossup where a rate hike could happen in December," said Jason Draho, head of tactical asset allocation Americas for UBS Group's U.S. wealth-management arm.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.1%.

Stocks in Asia mostly finished lower after disappointing economic data from China.

--Marina Force contributed to this article.

Write to Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 14, 2017 17:03 ET (21:03 GMT)