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Dow posts 10th straight record close after Steve Mnuchin remarks, but tech snaps 15-day win streak

U.S. equities closed mixed Thursday on the back of remarks made by newly minted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

"Investors want to see more details," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones. "Investors are a little more cautious, but I wouldn't take this as a major shift" in market direction.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 35 points and notched its 10th straight record close, with Johnson & Johnson contributing the most gains. The S&P 500 closed marginally higher after reaching a new all-time high, with utilities rising more than 1 percent.

The Nasdaq composite underperformed, sliding 0.4 percent as the tech sector snapped a 15-day winning streak.

"You've got the economy improving on its own, even without tax reform," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. "I think we keep going higher until we get that. Then the market might top out."

In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Mnuchin said he wants to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress' August recess.

"We want to get this done by the August recess. We've been working closely with the leadership in the House and the Senate and we're looking at a combined plan," he said.

The prospect of tax reform has been one of the key catalysts in the U.S. stock market's postelection rally, along with deregulation and government spending.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Andrew Burton | Getty Images
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

"There has been a lot of hope and expectation built into this market. This has been a buy-high, sell-higher market, and that is largely been justified by those expectations," said David Schiegoleit, managing director of investments at U.S Bank Private Client Reserve. "But when reality hits, that's when markets might revalue."

U.S. Treasurys and gold prices — considered traditional safe-haven assets — also rose following Mnuchin's interview.

The benchmark 10-year note yield fell to 2.387 percent, while the short-term two-year note yield slipped to 1.192 percent. Gold futures for April delivery, meanwhile, settled $18.10 higher at $1,251.40 per ounce.

"There is an incredible amount of skepticism out there, especially for a market that keeps making new highs," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors. "I think people keep focusing on Trump's missteps rather than the big picture, which is that the world economy is improving."

Recent U.S. data continues to show strength, as the Citi Economic Surprise index holds near its highest level since 2014. Weekly jobless claims remain near their lowest levels in more than 40 years.

The U.S. dollar fell about 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies, with the euro near $1.058 and the yen around 112.70.

In a meeting with several manufacturing CEOs, President Donald Trump said he wants a weaker dollar, which would benefit U.S. exporters. The greenback has risen more than 3 percent since Nov. 8.

In corporate news, Tesla reported mixed quarterly results, topping revenue estimates but falling short of profit forecasts. Meanwhile, Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands reported weak forward-looking guidance Wednesday after the close, sending its stock tanking more than 15 percent.

Overseas, European equities closed mostly lower, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index declining 0.14 percent. In Asia, the Shanghai composite fell 0.3 percent while the Nikkei 225 closed just below the flatline.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
DJIA
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S&P 500
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NASDAQ
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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.72 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 20,810.32, with Johnson & Johnson leading advancers and Caterpillar lagging.

The S&P 500 rose less than a point, or 0.04 percent, to end at 2,363.81, with utilities leading seven sectors higher and industrials lagging.

The Nasdaq composite declined 25.12 points, or 0.43 percent, to close at 5,835.51.

Advancers were a step ahead of decliners at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 926.81 million and a composite volume of 3.996 billion at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 11.8.

On tap this week:

Thursday

Earnings: Intuit, Axa, NovoCure, Pinnacle Foods, Wayfair, Canadian Imperial Bank

Friday

Earnings: JC Penney, Royal Bank of Canada, Foot Locker, Public Service, Rowan Cos

10:00 a.m. New home sales

10:00 a.m. Consumer sentiment

—CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.