Dow edges to new record; US stocks mostly up

New York City Ballet dancers from this year's production of The Nutcracker visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of Dec 24, 2014 in New York City. The Dow on Wednesday edged to a fresh record in a holiday-shortened sessio
New York City Ballet dancers from this year's production of The Nutcracker visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of Dec 24, 2014 in New York City. The Dow on Wednesday edged to a fresh record in a holiday-shortened session one day after topping 18,000 points for the first time ever. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow edged Wednesday to a fresh record in a holiday-shortened session, one day after topping 18,000 points for the first time ever.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 6.04 points (0.03 per cent) to 18,030.21, posting its sixth straight gain.

The broad-based S&P 500 snapped a five-day winning streak, falling a scant 0.29 (0.01 per cent) to 2,081.88, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 8.05 (0.17 per cent) to 4,773.47.

US stocks have been on a tear since the Federal Reserve last week kept interest rates low and pledged a cautious approach to raising rates.

Markets had stormed higher early in the day, but weakened in the last minutes of trade. Markets will be closed Thursday for the Christmas holiday.

Briefing.com said volume was light ahead of the holiday, with only 340 million shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange floor, compared with the average session of about 826 million.

Biotech stocks, including Gilead Sciences (+2.1 per cent) and Celgene (+3.3 per cent) rallied after suffering deep declines Tuesday on fears of a price war for pharmaceuticals.

Keurig Green Mountain added 0.8 per cent to recover some of its losses from the prior day. On Tuesday, Keurig, which sells specialty coffee and brewing systems, had said it was recalling 7.2 million coffee makers due to a burn hazard.

Petroleum drilling companies, such as Nabors Industries (-2.1 per cent) and Transocean (-1.9 per cent) suffered as oil prices resumed their downward tilt. Oil companies ExxonMobil, a Dow component, and EOG Resources also fell, 0.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.26 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year dipped to 2.83 per cent from 2.85 per cent Tuesday. Bond prices and yields move inversely.