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U.S. stocks gained on Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 finishing at records, as investors considered reports on manufacturing and housing in assessing the strength of the U.S. economy.
"People came in today to make sure there wasn't bad news out of durable goods and housing, and there wasn't. There were conflicting signals in housing," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.
The old Wall Street saying, 'never sell a dull market,' could be in play Wednesday, said Kinahan, who added: "all the action seems to be in crude and oil-service providers."
With the price of oil trading at four-year lows, the energy sector continued its recent downward trend.
SeaDrill fell sharply after the offshore driller suspended its dividend after a soft earnings report.
While crude's recent slide isn't supportive of valuations in the energy sector, "for the economy overall, with the consumer being its biggest driver, lower oil prices, meaning lower gas prices, are good," said Kinahan.
The government reported orders for durable goods rose in October, while a separate report had applications for unemployment benefits rising by 21,000 to 313,000 last week.
Consumer last month after holding steady in September, while a gauge of business activity in the Chicago area came in below expectations.
Consumer confidence rose to a seven-year high this month, an indicator that could bode well for the holiday shopping season.
The National Association of Realtors reported pending home sales fell 1.1 percent in October.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard slid after the computer maker reported fourth-quarter sales below expectations; Hertz Global rose as a regulatory filing showed activist investor Carl Icahn boosted his stake in the car-rental supplier by about 11 percent. Deere & Co. declined as the farm-equipment maker projected 2015 profit below estimates.
"The U.S. economy this year has shown a lot of resilience," Tom Lee, a stock market strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors, told CNBC, adding that lower gasoline prices support the ongoing recovery.
The price of crude-oil futures for January delivery fell 40 cents at $73.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a day ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, where a delegate told Reuters that a consensus was reached to not cut output.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 12.81 points, or about 0.1 percent, at 17,827.75.
The gained 5.80 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,072.83, with telecommunications the strongest performer and energy hardest hit among its 10 major sectors.
The Nasdaq rose .29.07 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,787.32.
The U.S. market is closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Advancers outpaced decliners nearly 2-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where 700 million shares traded as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume reqched 2.7 billion.
The U.S. dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 2 basis points to 2.2333 percent.
The gold futures contract for December fell 50 cents to finish the session at $1,196.60 an ounce.
U.S. stocks finished little changed Tuesday, with the S&P 500 wavering around its peak, as data had the economy growing more than previously forecast in the third quarter, offsetting an unexpected drop in consumer confidence in November.
Coming Up This Week:
Thanksgiving Day holiday
U.S. markets closed
Black Friday holiday shopping
U.S. stock market closes at 1 p.m. Eastern
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