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Stock indexes close mostly higher; Dow, S&P 500 at records

Trader John Panin, left, works on the floor

Trader John Panin, left, works on the floor of the NYSE, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Credit: AP

Gains by health care companies led stock indexes mostly higher Tuesday, pushing the market further into record territory.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly climbed above the 23,000 mark for the first time, settling just below the milestone. Slight gains nudged the Dow and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes to new highs for the second straight day this week.

Health care companies posted some of the biggest gains following strong earnings from UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson. News of a plan backed by the White House that would extend federal payments to health insurers also gave the sector a boost.

Banks and other financial stocks declined the most. Packaged food and beverage companies were also big laggards.

“Expectations of ongoing earnings growth are reasonably strong, but there may be a bit of a wait-and-see at this point in time given the run in the equity markets,” said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede.

The S&P 500 index added 1.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,559.36. The Dow picked up 40.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,997.44. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.35 points, or 0.01 percent, to 6,623.66. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 5.18 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,497.50.

More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

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