Wall Street capped a wobbly day for stocks with another record-setting finish Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index each eked out a modest gain that was good enough to nudge them to record highs. The Nasdaq closed just below its all-time high set a day earlier.
The latest milestones came after the market bounced back from a late-afternoon slide that coincided with a published report that highlighted snags in the ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations.
Stocks spent much of the morning with slight gains after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a congressional panel that the central bank is likely to hold off on cutting interest rates again, citing optimism about the U.S. economy.
Investors’ optimism that Washington and Beijing are nearing a stopgap trade deal and Fed interest rate cuts have helped lift the market in recent weeks. Surprisingly good corporate earnings and data showing the economy is still growing solidly have also put investors in a buying mood.
On Wednesday, much of that buying involved safe-play stocks like utilities, real estate companies and makers of consumer products that tend to pay higher dividends. Those sectors outweighed losses in banks, industrial stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Demand for bonds also increased, sending bond yields lower.
“It’s a safe-haven kind of approach, but it has more to do with a focus on income,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “(Investors) are willing to go into these different areas of the market because the economy is strong enough to sustain those dividends.”
The S&P 500 rose 2.20 points, or 0.1%, to 3,094.04, a record. The benchmark index edged past its last record close, set on Friday. It has now hit new highs 20 times this year, eclipsing the 19 it hit in 2018.
The Dow gained 91.10 points, or 0.3%, to 27,783.59. It also closed at a record high on Monday.
The Nasdaq dropped 3.99 points, or 0.1%, to 8,482.10.
Small-company stocks lagged the broader market, sending the Russell 2000 index down 5.94 points, or 0.4%, to 1,589.18.