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Some stocks gain in late-day rally

A Wall Street sign outside the New York

A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan on July 16, 2013. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Some financial markets climbed to gains late Thursday, as investors cautiously considered the outlook for interest rates, the latest sanctions against Russia and volatile energy prices.

At the close on Wall Street, only the Dow Jones industrial average was down 19.7 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,049. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1.8 points, nearly 0.1 percent, to 1,997.5. The Nasdaq composite also gained 5.3 points, or nearly 0.1 percent, to 4,591.8.

Health care stocks, the year's biggest gainers, fell back. Lululemon jumped 14 percent after the troubled yoga-gear retailer reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations. Traders are looking ahead to a Federal Reserve meeting next week and wondering when interest rates will rise.

HEALTH CARE: Health care companies led declines in the S&P 500 index with a drop of 0.5 percent. The industry has been the best performing sector in the index this year, climbing 15.1 percent, compared to an 7.7 percent gain for the broader index.

LULULEMON RISE: Lululemon Athletica Inc. rose $5.34, nearly 14 percent, to close at $43.73 after the troubled yoga-gear retailer reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations. The company also raised its full-year forecast. Lululemon has been trying to turn itself around since last spring, when it pulled one of its popular yoga pants from stores because they were too sheer.

FED THOUGHTS: The Federal Reserve is never far from investors' minds, and many are already looking forward to next week's meeting of policymakers. The Fed is currently winding down its economic stimulus measures, and investors will be expecting an update on the economy and more insight into when the central bank might begin raising interest rates. The Fed concludes its latest two-day policy meeting next Wednesday.

SLUGGISH SEPTEMBER: Stocks have moved lower this week after closing at a record high on Friday. September is historically the weakest month for the stock market, according to data from the Stock Traders' Almanac. The S&P 500 is down 0.6 percent so far this month.

RUSSIAN SANCTIONS. President Barack Obama says the United States is moving ahead with tougher economic sanctions on Russia over Russia's actions in Ukraine. Obama says the sanctions will affect Russia's financial, energy and defense sectors. He says they'll increase Moscow's political isolation and economic costs to the country. The European Union also announced sanctions Thursday in Brussels.

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