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Dividend stocks lead modest gains

Specialist Peter Mazza works at his post on

Specialist Peter Mazza works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.  Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Utilities, real estate and other big-dividend-paying companies led U.S. stocks mostly higher Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq composite to a new record for the second day in a row.

The gains by big-dividend-paying stocks came as bond yields fell, making those traditional safe-haven companies more attractive to investors seeking income. Banks and other financial stocks were the market’s biggest laggards.

While investors have been focused in recent weeks on companies reporting their quarterly results, they are also trying to size up whether the Trump administration will deliver on expectations of business-friendly policies that helped fuel the market rally last fall.

“You’re beginning to see investors hedging some of their concerns, whether it’s an escalation in the debate between the White House and the judges on the (travel) ban, or concerns over the direction of the elections coming up in the Eurozone,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,294.67. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 35.95 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,054.34. The Nasdaq added 8.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,682.45.

Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.34 percent from 2.40 percent late Tuesday.

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