US stocks drifted further into record heights in a listless day of trading on Tuesday, as Wall Street waits for the heavyweight economic data coming at the end of the week. The S&P 500 inched up by 1.19 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,291.80 and added to its all-time high set a day earlier. More stocks fell than rose within the index, but gains for tech companies again made up for weakness among banks and utilities, the AP reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged higher by 9.02 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34,292.29. The Nasdaq composite added 27.83, or 0.2%, to its record high from a day before and finished at 14,528.33.
Stocks have set their recent records on optimism that the economy is strengthening and that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for a while longer. A report released Tuesday morning showed a measure of confidence among US consumers is continuing to rise, beating economists’ expectations for a slight decline. Major banks announced plans to return billions of dollars to their shareholders through dividend increases and stock buybacks after passing the Federal Reserve's most recent “stress tests.” Morgan Stanley rose 3.4% after announcing a doubling of its dividend and plans to buy back $12 billion of its own stock. Other bank stocks were mixed following their own announcements. Goldman Sachs rose 1.1%, but Bank of America fell 1.6%. As a group, financial stocks in the S&P 500 fell.
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