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Stocks brush off year’s first wobble, return to records

Specialist Peter Mazza, left, and trader Tommy Kalikas

Specialist Peter Mazza, left, and trader Tommy Kalikas work on the floor of the NYSE, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Credit: AP

U.S. stocks brushed aside their first wobble of the year and got back to setting records on Thursday. Energy stocks led the way after the price of oil touched its highest level since 2014.

The gains for indexes marked a return to calm, after a whiff of nervousness wafted through markets a day earlier as interest rates rose.

After rates held steady on Thursday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index marked its seventh gain in the last eight days.

The S&P 500 rose 19.33 points, or 0.7 percent, to a record 2,767.56. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 205.60 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,574.73, the Nasdaq composite gained 58.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,211.78 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks surged 26.99 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,586.79.

The market’s smooth ride upward hit a bump Wednesday when worries rose that a jump in interest rates could derail the ascent. Rates have been ultra-low since the Great Recession, a culmination of a decline in bond yields over the last three-plus decades.

“Everyone’s on edge about waiting for what’s to come,” even though central banks have promised to take a slow path toward higher rates, said Marina Severinovsky, investment strategist at Schroders.

“There shouldn’t be a falling-off-the-cliff mentality, but we’re so primed,” she said. “We’re 30 years into this, waiting for the trigger.”

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