After Buying Frenzy, Wall Street Pauses

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The Dow waddled higher on Wednesday, narrowly extending its winning streak to six days, as traders took stock of Wall Street's blockbuster performance over the past several sessions.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16.4 points, or 0.12%, to 13194, the S&P 500 dipped 1.7 points, or 0.12%, to 1394 and the Nasdaq Composite edged higher by 0.85 point, or 0.03%, to 3041.

The Dow is at its highest level since 2007, while the broad S&P 500 is sitting just a nudge under its best mark since 2008. The S&P also nearly hit the 4000 level in intra-day trading for the first time since that year before pulling back.

Overall, the markets performed tepidly on Wednesday, with some market participants remaining cautious and warning of a potential pullback on the horizon.

"The market internals are negative," Teddy Weisberg, a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange said in an interview with FOX Business. "We have had some technical deterioration."

Weisberg pointed the fact that roughly four out of every five S&P components were to the downside as reason for concern. There were also roughly 1.8 declining shares for each rising share on the NYSE, according to an analysis by FOX Business.

Still, other analysts remained positive, citing renewed optimism about the state of the U.S. economy, the world's biggest, and a view that the financial sector is strengthening.

"There is this feeling overall that things are starting to get a little better," James Hughes, a senior market analyst at Alpari said in an interview with FOX Business.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Boeing (NYSE:BA)  were the biggest gainers on the day. Amex, with its higher price point, contributed 14.4 points to the Dow's overall performance.

Blue-chip laggards included Disney (NYSE:DIS), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ).

Out of the major sectors, utilities and energy companies took the biggest hits. Technology companies and financials performed the best. Indeed, Apple proved a major boon to the tech sector after rallying 3.8% to close at $589.58, another record high for the iPad maker.

Stress Tests Instill Confidence in Many Big Banks

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday held its monetary policy steady, but said it expects the unemployment rate to gradually decrease and the economy to continue expanding at a moderate gate. Another major driver of the big gains was optimism over the U.S. banking sector. After the close in New York, the Fed unveiled the results of its stress tests that showed 15 of 19 banks passing.

With the central bank's seal of approval, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), the biggest American bank by assets, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), American Express (NYSE:AXP), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) and BB&T (NYSE:BBT) revealed plans to boost their dividends.

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and two smaller banks also said they are considering a dividend and stock buyback plan.

Still, not all news was positive on that front. Citigroup (NYSE:C), Ally Bank, Sun Trust (NYSE:STI) and MetLife Bank, a unit of insurance giant MetLife (NYSE:MET), all failed.

The U.S. dollar gained 0.03% against a basket of six world currencies tracked by the dollar index .

The economic calendar is fairly light on the day. A report from the Labor Department showed U.S. import prices rose by 0.4% in February, less than the 0.6% expected. Export prices also rose by 0.4%, higher than the 0.2% expected.

Gold Tumbles

Energy futures were little changed. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York dipped $1.28, or 1.2%, to $105.43 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline slipped 0.23% to $3.347 a gallon.

In metals, gold slid $51.30, or 3%, to $1,643 a troy ounce. U.S. Treasury yields, which tightened considerably in the last session, continued rising. The 10-year note increased 0.071-percentage point to 2.195%.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips jumped 0.79%, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.18% to 5967 and the German DAX rallied 1.1% to 7072.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 leaped 1.5% to 10051 and the Chinese Hang Seng ticked lower by 0.15% to 21308.

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