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Stock indexes end the day mixed as investors watch dollar

The outside of the NYSE on July 15,

The outside of the NYSE on July 15, 2013. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

U.S. stocks spent a second day flipping between small gains and losses Thursday as investors again looked for hints about the Trump administration’s stance on international trade and the dollar. Major indexes ended the day mixed as airlines plunged while biotech drugmakers climbed.

Homebuilders fell sharply after the Commerce Department said sales of new homes dropped in December. Airlines suffered a second day of sharp losses as investors worried about rising costs and the possibility of lower air fares. Retailers and technology companies slipped, but health care companies including Biogen and Celgene rose.

High-dividend stocks such as utilities rallied as bond yields fell, making those stocks more attractive to investors seeking income.

The dollar made a small recovery in the afternoon after President Donald Trump said he wants to see a stronger U.S. currency. The dollar has fallen to three-year lows, and it fell further on Wednesday after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there were advantages to the dollar’s weakness over the last year.

The S&P 500 inched up 0.1 percent, to 2,839.25. The Dow average climbed 140.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 26,392.79. The Nasdaq composite fell 3.89 points to 7,411.16. — AP

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