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US stocks rise in light trading; Dow hits a new high

Associated Press 

US stock indexes wrung out modest gains 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; they are able to charge higher interest rates on loans.

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Some energy stocks got a boost from natural gas prices, which jumped nearly 7 percent as temperatures dropped across much of the United States. Crude oil prices also closed higher; benchmark US crude rose 20 cents to $59.84 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Consumer-goods makers lagged the broad rally, which gave the market its second higher finish in a row. The stock market seldom declines at 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 0.2 percent, to 2,687.54. The Dow gained 0.3 percent, to 24,837.51. The 30-company average has closed at a record high 71 times this year.

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

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, meanwhile, are hovering just below their record highs. All the indexes are on track to end 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 1.7 percent.

The price of natural gas rose sharply up 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, climbing 4.1 percent. Range Resources rose 3.8 percent.

Netflix also contributed to the market’s gains, picking up 3.5 percent.

Several packaged food, beverage, and other consumer-goods makers declined. Monster Beverage slid 2 percent.

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.