December 17, 2014
Wall Street ends near flat; Dow hits record for 4th day
US stocks finished nearly flat today, although the Dow eked out another record closing high as utilities' shares fell while 10-year bond yields hit their highest level in a month.
Six of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes ended the session lower. The decline was led by a 0.3 percent drop in the S&P utilities index. Utility stocks' high dividends tend to lose some of their appeal when bond yields jump.
It was the Dow's fourth straight record closing high. The S&P 500, though, broke its four-day string of record high finishes.
The benchmark S&P 500 moved within less than a 7-point range, continuing its recent tight trading pattern.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 2.82 points or 0.02 percent, to 16,945.92, a record closing high.
The S&P 500 dipped 0.48 of a point or 0.02 percent, to finish at 1,950.79. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.75 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,338.
European stocks inched up, extending a three-week rally and led by gains in defensive Swiss blue-chips such as pharma group Novartis and food giant Nestle.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,398.18 points, led by Novartis and Roche, both up 2 percent, as well as Nestle, up 0.9 percent, stocks seen as defensive due to the resilience of their results throughout economic cycles.
"It's a positive sign to see defensive sectors gaining traction. Not just cyclicals are in vogue. It confirms that the bull trend is healthy and should last for a while," said Alexandre Tixier, analyst at TradingSat, in Paris.
"Resilient trading volumes are also a positive sign, with more and more retail investors getting in. The overall picture eclipses the fact that charts might show 'overbought' conditions in the short term."
The Swiss benchmark index SMI gained 1.1 percent, hitting a 6-1/2 year high, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index ended 0.3 percent higher, at 3,313.80 points.
The Euro STOXX 50, which has surged 5.7 percent in the past three weeks - boosted by the European Central Bank's fresh measures to support the region's economic recovery - slipped into "overbought" territory..
Its relative strength index (RSI), a widely used momentum indicator, hit 71, with 70 and above considered "overbought", which could signal a pause in the rally or a pull-back in the short term.