Dow Hits New High in Light Trading

(AP) -- U.S. stock indexes wrung out a modest gain during another quiet session on Wall Street Thursday, nudging the Dow Jones industrial average to a new high ahead of the final trading day of 2017.

Financial stocks accounted for much of the market's gains. The sector benefited from rising bond yields, which help banks because it enables them to charge higher interest rates on loans.

Some energy stocks got a boost from natural gas prices, which jumped nearly 7 percent as temperatures dropped across much of the U.S. Crude oil prices also closed higher.

Consumer-goods makers lagged the broad rally, which gave the market its second higher finish in a row. The stock market seldom declines this time of year, noted John Serrapere, director of research at Arrow Funds.

"It's a light, light, light calendar," Serrapere said. "Normally between Christmas and New Year's you get a positive, muted upslope in the markets."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.92 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,687.54. The Dow gained 63.21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,837.51. The 30-company average has closed at a record high 71 times this year.

The Nasdaq added 10.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,950.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 4.99 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,548.93, matching its most recent all-time high set early last week.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, meanwhile, are hovering just below their all-time highs. All the indexes are on track to end the 2017 with double-digit gains.

Bond prices fell as yields recovered partially from a big drop a day earlier. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.43 percent from 2.41 percent late Wednesday.

That helped lift shares in banks and other financial companies. Northern Trust added $1.64, or 1.7 percent, to $100.32.

The price of natural gas rose sharply as an arctic blast gripped a large swath from the Midwest to the Northeast, sending temperatures plummeting. It climbed 18 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $2.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The increase gave some energy companies a boost. Chesapeake Energy was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing 16 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $4.04. Range Resources rose 65 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $17.61.

Netflix also contributed to the market's gains Thursday. The video-streaming service picked up $6.47, or 3.5 percent, to $192.71.

Several packaged food, beverage and other consumer-goods makers declined. Monster Beverage slid $1.31, or 2 percent, to $62.92.

Traders also sold off shares in companies that delivered unimpressive results or outlooks.

Calumet Specialty Products Partners tumbled 9 percent after the oil and solvents processor reported disappointing third-quarter results. The stock gave up 80 cents to $8.05.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 20 cents to settle at $59.84 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained 28 cents to $66.72 per barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil inched up a penny to $2.05 a gallon.

Gold rose $5.80 to $1,297.20 an ounce. Silver added 17 cents, or 1 percent, to $16.92 an ounce. Copper climbed 2 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.31 a pound.

The dollar declined to 112.87 yen from 113.26 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1952 from $1.1899.

The price of bitcoin declined for the second day in a row, sliding 9 percent to $13,995 as of 4:56 p.m. ET, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange fell 8 percent to $13,755. South Korea's government announced additional measures Thursday to curb speculative trading of virtual currencies in the country, including a ban on opening anonymous accounts.

Major indexes in Europe closed mostly lower. Germany's DAX slipped 0.7 percent, while France's CAC 40, lost 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 inched up less than 0.1 percent, but the gain was enough for the index to close at a record high.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains to finish 0.6 percent lower. South Korea's Kospi surged 1.3 percent after government data showed strong gains in retail sales and industrial output last month. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent.

(BE)