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Stocks indexes close mostly higher after Fed rate hike

The New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 16,

The New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 16, 2017. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Bryan R. Smith

The major U.S. stock indexes finished mostly higher Wednesday, with small companies notching big gains as lawmakers in the House and Senate reached a deal on a sweeping tax reform package.

The Dow Jones industrial average eked out its third record-high close in as many days, driven by a jump in Caterpillar. But a last-minute pullback in bank stocks left the Standard & Poor’s 500 index slightly lower.

Packaged food and beverage stocks, health care companies and industrials shares accounted for much of the market’s modest gains. Banks struggled as long-term bond yields edged lower, which makes it tougher for banks to earn money from lending.

The decline in financial stocks came even as the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate for the third time this year. The move, which was widely expected, came as the central bank noted that the U.S. economy was on sound footing.

The S&P 500 index slipped 1.26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,662.85. The index closed at all-time highs on Monday and Tuesday.

The Dow gained 80.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,585.43. The Nasdaq added 13.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,875.80. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 8.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,524.45.

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

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