Phone and bank stocks push indexes higher; Dow at record

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks posted slight gains on Tuesday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to another record, helped by shares of telecommunications companies such as Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Small companies and bank stocks also rose as investors continue to speculate that U.S. economic growth will pick up under the incoming Trump administration.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 35.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,251.78, a record high close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,212.23 and the Nasdaq composite rose 24.11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,333.

Telecommunications stocks were among the biggest gainers, helped by a myriad of company-specific news. Dow member Verizon climbed 61 cents, or 1 percent, to $50.36 and AT&T rose 72 cents, or 2 percent, to $39.35. Overall, the telecom sector of the S&P 500 rose 1.5 percent.

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AT&T rose following reports that its newly launched DirectTV Now service was attracting more subscribers than anticipated, while Verizon rose as the company sold a group of data centers for $3.6 billion.

Separately, Sprint and T-Mobile gained after President-elect Donald Trump said that Japanese company Softbank, which owns the majority of Sprint, was going to invest $50 billion in the U.S. to create 50,000 jobs over the next four years. However, it’s not clear if Softbank’s announcement is new. T-Mobile shares rose on speculation that it could be acquired in de-regulatory Trump White House, possibly by SoftBank.

Sprint jumped 12 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $8.17, while T-Mobile rose 97 cents, or roughly 2 percent, to $55.99.

Bank stocks also continued to perform well, as they have since the election. The financial services sector of the S&P 500 closed up 1 percent, far more than the broader market. The Russell 2000 index, which is made up of mostly smaller companies, rose 1.1 percent to a new record as well.

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Boeing’s stock dropped briefly after President-elect Trump said he believed the U.S. government should cancel its order for a new Air Force One plane, claiming the project is too expensive. The Air Force has not contracted out the new Air Force One plane, due in 2021, yet. However Boeing does have a $170 million viability contract with the Air Force to determine the capabilities of the next version of Air Force One. Boeing had been down as much as 1 percent earlier in the day, only to close mostly unchanged at $152.24.

A rally in oil prices petered out after four days of gains driven by OPEC’s deal to cut production next year. Benchmark U.S. crude closed down 86 cents to $50.93 in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, shed $1.01 to $53.93 a barrel in London. While oil prices were solidly lower, energy companies were trading mostly flat to only slightly lower.

Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.64 a gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.54 a gallon and natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other company-specific news, Chipotle Mexican Grill dropped $29.90, or 7.5 percent, to $366.37 after the company’s CEO said he was “nervous” about hitting full-year forecasts and that the company’s turnaround is going slower than expected. Chipotle has struggled since an E. coli outbreak last year.

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In Europe, Italy’s stock market jumped 4.2 percent, a day after slipping in the wake of the failure of a constitutional referendum that forced the resignation of that country’s premier. France’s CAC 40 added 1.3 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX rose 0.8 percent.

U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.39 percent from 2.40 percent late Monday.

In currencies, the euro fell against the dollar to $1.0715 versus $1.077 the day before and the dollar rose against the yen to 114.05 from 113.75 yen.

In the metals markets, gold fell $6.40 to $1,170.10 an ounce, silver fell 9 cents to $16.81 an ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $2.68 a pound.