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U.S. stock indexes end trading mixed with small gains

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. Credit: Bloomberg News / Michael Nagle

U.S. stocks ended the day Wednesday mixed but slightly higher. A day after a steep slide, investors are opting for real estate and phone companies and other stocks that pay big dividends. Health care companies continue to fall.

ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.5 points, about 0.09 percent, at 18,144.2. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 2.5 points, about 0.1 percent, to 2,139.2. The Nasdaq composite, however, was off 7.8 points, about 0.2 percent, at 5,239.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.78 percent from 1.76 percent. While bond yields are low by historic standards, they’re currently at their highest levels since the beginning of June as investors grow more certain that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in the coming months.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude oil was down 50 cents at $50.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 56 cents to 50.79 on Tuesday. In London Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 59 cents to $51.82 a barrel.

ANALYST’S OPINION: “People were worried that we’d continue to see investors shy away from what might be an erratic earnings season,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones. “It’s good news that investors are a little more optimistic and looking forward.”

A FEEL FOR YIELD: Investors bought big dividend payers like real estate investment trust and utilities. Those stocks did well early this year but have struggled lately. The stocks that pay the biggest dividends are the worst performers on the market over the last three months.

Real estate investment trust Crown Castle International added $2.50, or 2.8 percent, to $91.50 and American Tower Corp. picked up $2.63, or 2.4 percent, to $111.57. Verizon led phone companies higher as it rose 45 cents to $50.35 and utility WEC Energy gained 84 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $57.43.

HUMANA HIT: Health insurer Humana said its plans received lower ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which could affect the bonus payments the company gets from the government. For 2018, the company said 37 percent of its members are now in plans rated 4 stars or higher. That’s down from 78 percent a year ago. The stock fell $10.16, or 5.7 percent, to $167.37 and helped drag health care companies down after they took a big loss Tuesday.


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