US stocks make modest gains as Dow Jones hits new high

US stocks saw modest gains during another quiet session on Wall Street today, nudging the Dow Jones industrial average to a new high before 2017's final trading day.

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% as temperatures dropped across much of the US. Crude oil prices also closed higher.

Consumer goods makers lagged behind 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," he 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%, to 2,687.54.

The Dow gained 63.21 points, or 0.3%, 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%, to 6,950.16.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 4.99 points, or 0.3%, 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% from 2.41% late on Wednesday.

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

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%, to 2.91 dollars 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%, to 4.04 dollars.

Range Resources rose 65 cents, or 3.8%, to 17.61 dollars.

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

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

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

The price of bitcoin declined for the second day in a row, sliding 9% to 13,995 dollars as of 4.56pm Eastern Time, according to the tracking site CoinDesk.

Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange fell 8% to 13,755 dollars.

South Korea's government announced additional measures on Thursday to curb speculative trading of virtual currencies in the country, including a ban on opening anonymous accounts.



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