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U.S. and global stock markets take a breather

Thomas Donato, center, follows stock prices, Thursday, Feb.

Thomas Donato, center, follows stock prices, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at the New York Stock Exchange.  Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Stocks around the world pulled back Thursday, taking at least a temporary pause from a record-setting run, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its first drop in eight days. The dollar’s value dipped against rival currencies, and Treasury yields fell as bond prices rose.

ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 2 points, about 0.09 percent, at 2,347.2. Wednesday, it again set a record high after rising for the seventh straight day, its longest winning streak in three and a half years.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.9 points, about 0.04 percent, at 20,619.8. The Nasdaq composite was down 4.5 points, about 0.08 percent, to 5,814.9.

BOND YIELDS: Treasury yields pulled back a bit, giving back some of their gains from the prior day. At the close, the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.45 percent from 2.50 percent on Wednesday.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude gained 22 cents to $53.82 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished 9 cents lower on Wednesday. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, the international standard, was down 4 cents at $55.71 a barrel.

DIVIDEND DEMAND: Lower bond yields make big-dividend payers more attractive to income investors, and the biggest payers gained. Real estate investment trusts rose 0.7 percent, most among the 11 sectors in the S&P 500. Utilities, which are also big dividend payers, rose 0.6 percent.

ECONOMIC UPDATES: Home builders broke ground on fewer projects last month than in December, but the figures were a bit better than economists had forecast. A measure of manufacturing in the Philadelphia region suggested that growth is improving, and that figure also beat estimates.

The reports followed two big ones on Wednesday, which showed that rising optimism among shoppers may be translating into increased spending and that inflation is on the rise. Strong signs on the economy such as those could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner or more quickly than investors had thought.

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