Blue chips eked out a slim gain to continue their recent run into the record books, although other major indexes declined, as investors took a breather following mixed economic reports at home and abroad.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 2.77 points, or less than 0.1%, to 14450.06, extending its streak of gains to eight. The Dow hasn't looked back since reaching an all-time high a week ago: the blue chips' streak of advances is the longest in two years.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 3.74 points, or 0.2%, to 1552.48. The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite Index lost 10.55 points, or 0.3%, to 3242.32.
"Bull markets require a daily portion of good news in order to keep advancing," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist for Atlanta-based RidgeWorth Investments, which manages about $48 billion in assets. "The market is somewhat extended, so without that good news, the market is vulnerable to a pullback."
Financial and tech stocks dragged on benchmarks, with Bank of America (BAC)
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT)
On the economic front, the National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business optimism index for February rose and topped expectations. But the federation's reading on expected business conditions remained deep in recession territory, and business owners reporting declining sales far outnumbered those saying sales increased.
The Stoxx Europe 600 closed less than 0.1% higher, as the British statistics were offset by an upbeat outlook for the German economy. Manufacturing output in the U.K. fell 1.5% in January, much worse than expectations for slight growth. Meanwhile, Germany's Economy Ministry said the economy was on the verge of recovery.
Asian markets were broadly lower, led by a 1% decline in the Shanghai Composite, the index's fourth-straight loss, after China's central bank signaled it would drain more cash from the financial system. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average erased early gains to close down 0.3% and snap an eight-session winning streak.
April crude-oil futures added 0.5% to settle at $92.54 a barrel, while March gold futures tacked on 0.9% to settle at $1,591.50 a troy ounce. The dollar gained against the euro and fell versus the yen. Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds fell to settle at 2.023% as demand rose.
In corporate news, shares of Yum Brands (YUM)
Costco Wholesale (COST)
VeriFone Systems (PAY)
Diamond Foods fell after the seller of Emerald snack nuts, Kettle chips and Pop Secret popcorn reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue fell short of analysts' estimates, amid a sharp drop in sales of nuts.
Write to Matt Jarzemsky at firstname.lastname@example.org