Russell 2000 lone winner among markets

A man walks past the New York Stock A man walks past the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Investors will be looking forward to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress, scheduled for Wednesday. (May 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Small-company stocks were a bright spot in a subdued start to the week for Wall Street.

The Russell 2000, an index of small-company stocks, climbed above 1,000 points for the first time and ended higher Monday, even as the Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq composite index all edged lower.

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The gains for the smaller companies are encouraging for the broader stock market, because they show that investors are becoming more comfortable about the economy and investing in riskier assets, said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer at Cabot Money Management.

Small-company stocks are considered riskier than the stocks of well-established, large companies like IBM or Coca-Cola. That's because small companies are often relatively young and tend to have less diversified businesses than larger ones, making them more susceptible to swings in demand from their customers.

The Russell 2000 rose 1.70 points to close at 997.98. The index climbed as high as 1001.50 at midday.

The Dow closed down 19.12 points at 15,335.28. The S&P 500 index fell 0.07 percent to 1,666.29. The Nasdaq index closed down 0.07 percent to 3,496.43. -- AP

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