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Stocks close mostly lower as early gains fade

A trio of traders work in a booth

A trio of traders work in a booth on the floor of the NYSE, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

The major stock indexes closed mostly lower Thursday after a midday gain faded by late afternoon.

Retailers, restaurant chains and other consumer-focused companies accounted for much of the market’s pullback. The losses outweighed solid gains by financial stocks, which got a boost as climbing bond yields set the stage for higher interest rates on mortgages and other loans.

Even though January was the best month for the stock market since March 2016, the swift rise in the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is a benchmark for interest rates, has stoked investor worries that higher rates could dampen company earnings and hurt equity prices.

“Good earnings alone or maybe great earnings alone won’t move the stock market up,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. “We got to have a pause in the rate of increase in interest rates for the uptrend to resume.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.83 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,821.98. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 37.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 26,186.71. The Nasdaq composite lost 25.62 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,385.86.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 2.79 percent from 2.71 percent late Wednesday. The prospect for stronger economic growth, both in the U.S. and abroad, has helped drive bond yields higher in recent months.

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