Business

Banks, tech lead stocks higher; Dow sets a record

Banks and technology companies led US stocks to modest gains Thursday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to its second record in two days.

Big retail chains and other consumer-focused stocks were among the gainers. Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil increased. Phone companies and utilities lagged the market.

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‘‘We’re continuing to hit record highs,’’ said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. ‘‘It is a resilient market, impervious to whatever comes out of Washington.’’

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.2 percent, to 2,447.83. The Dow rose 0.1 percent, to 21,553.09. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.2 percent, to 6,274.44. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks inched up 0.1 percent, to 1,425.66.

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The major indexes are all on pace to end the week with gains.

Trading was mostly subdued for much of the day as investors weighed new economic data on applications for unemployment benefits and prices at the wholesale level.

Overall, investors were focused on the coming wave of corporate earnings.

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Banks and other financials stocks posted the largest gains. T. Rowe Price Group added 4.8 percent, Goldman Sachs Group rose 1.3 percent, and Morgan Stanley picked up 1.2 percent.

On Friday, several big banks, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo release their second-quarter results.

Delta Air Lines released its earnings Thursday. Its shares slid 1.8 percent after the company reported a smaller profit and less revenue than expected.

Traders also bid up technology stocks. NetApp rose 3 percent, and PayPal gained 2.4 percent.

Several large retailers had a good day.

Gap notched the biggest gain among S&P 500 companies, 5.6 percent. Macy’s rose 4.1 percent.

Investors cheered Target’s latest quarterly outlook. The retailer raised its second-quarter forecasts and said sales and customer traffic increased. The stock gained 4.8 percent.

NRG Energy climbed 5.3 percent a day after it disclosed plans to raise up to $4 billion through asset sales to lower debt.

Benchmark US crude gained 1.3 percent, to settle at $46.08 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 1.4 percent, to close at $48.42.

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