Stock market today: Wall Street drifts to a mixed close, holding near record levels

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks had a mixed finish Wednesday, as a pause spread across financial markets around the world.

The S&P 500 fell 9.96 points, or 0.2%, from its all-time high set a day earlier to 5,165.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.83, or 0.1%, to 39,043.32 and moved within 90 points of its record set last month. The Nasdaq Composite fell 87.87, or 0.5%, to 16,177.77.

The bond market was also relatively quiet, with Treasury yields rising, while overseas stock markets were mixed after making mostly modest moves.

The biggest action may have occurred in the oil market, where a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude rose $2.16 to settle at $79.72. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $2.11 to $84.03 a barrel.

Oil prices have seen a general rebound so far this year, which has helped keep inflation a little higher than economists expected. That higher inflation, in turn, has dashed Wall Street's hopes that the Federal Reserve could begin offering relief at its meeting next week by cutting interest rates.

But the expectation remains that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting rates in June because the long-term trend in inflation appears to remain bearish. The Federal Reserve's main interest rate is at its highest level since 2001, and reductions would ease pressure on the economy and financial system. Stocks have already risen in part on expectations of such cuts.

However, his almost uninterrupted run since late October has drawn criticism that it was exaggerated. The U.S. stock market recently looked more expensive than it has in 99% of its history based on a measure that looks at prices versus long-term earnings of companies, according to Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of GMO.

The famous investor, who has a reputation for being cautious but also correctly predicted the bursting of previous bubbles, says the long-term outlook for the broader U.S. market “looks as poor as at almost any other time in history.”

"The simple rule is that you can't get blood out of a stone," he wrote in a recent report. "If you double the price of an asset, you halve its future return."

On Wall Street, where the S&P 500 has risen 44% since bottoming in 2022, Dollar Tree fell 14.2% after reporting weaker results for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

Traffic was up at his stores, but he said customers bought less with each purchase than they did a year ago. The company also said it will close about 600 of its Family Dollar stores in the six months through early August.

On the winning side of Wall Street was Williams-Sonoma, which jumped 17.8%. The company, which also operates Pottery Barn and West Elm stores, increased its dividend 26% and announced a new authorization to buy back up to $1 billion of its shares. It also posted bigger profits in its latest quarter than analysts expected, despite the drag of a slower housing market.

Energy producers' stocks were also strong, benefiting from rising oil prices. Those of the S&P 500 rose 1.5%, the largest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Valero Energy rose 5.2% and Marathon Petroleum added 3.1%. A 1.1% rise for Exxon Mobil was one of the strongest forces driving the S&P 500 higher.

Most S&P 500 stocks ended up rising, but the index was hit by losses from some Big Tech giants and other influential members. Nvidia fell 1.1% and was one of the strongest forces driving down the S&P 500.

In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 4.18% from 4.15% late Tuesday. Helps set mortgage and loan rates for all types of businesses and other borrowers.

The two-year Treasury yield also rose. It more closely follows the Federal Reserve's expectations and rose to 4.62% from 4.58% late Tuesday and from 4.20% in early February. It had previously fallen on strong expectations of upcoming interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

In foreign stock markets, indices posted mostly modest moves in Europe and Asia. Shares rose 0.6% in Paris and 0.4% in Seoul, but fell 0.4% in Shanghai.

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AP business writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.

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