Stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with investors grappling with the positive and negative effects from rising interest rates after the release of strong U.S. economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 54 points, after hitting an all-time intraday high earlier in trading of 26,951.81 points. The was closed about unchanged, as losses in consumer and utility stocks outweighed gains in the financial sector. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.3 percent, with Apple rising 1.2 percent.
Investors sold stocks sensitive to rising rates, including utilities and consumer product companies with large dividends like Procter & Gamble. Shares of banks, which tend to make more money in periods of rising rates, gained with J.P. Morgan Chase adding almost 1 percent on the day.
"Financials are trying to bounce," said Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors. "This group has been under relentless pressure over the last couple weeks, so it's tough to make too much of today's move, but is helping markets to rally a bit more."
Citigroup also rose about 1 percent, while Bank of America gained 1.4 percent. Regional banks were the biggest gainers in the financial space as the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) climbed 2.4 percent.
The benchmark 10-year note yield traded near 3.14 percent, hitting its highest level since 2011. The 30-year bond yield, meanwhile, reached its highest level since October 2014. Rates were boosted by the release of stronger-than-expected economic data.
Private payrolls increased by 230,000 in September — the most since February — according to a report from ADP and Moody's Analytics. Economists polled by Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters) expected a gain of 185,000. The report is often seen as a preview to the government's nonfarm payrolls report, which is set for release Friday morning.
"Investors were looking for a rebound from last month's muted results, and they got it," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E-Trade. "Economic reports, market movement, and even the Fed are all telling us one thing: The economy is in a solid place right now."
The ISM non-manufacturing index reached its highest level on record, according to data released Wednesday.
Wednesday's slight gain comes after the Dow rallied a combined 316 points on Monday and Tuesday. Decreasing fears of a global trade war helped boost the Dow to start off the fourth quarter.
Canada joined a trade deal between the U.S. and Mexico. The deal grants U.S. dairy farmers access to the Canadian market, while Canada agreed to effectively cap automobile exports to the States.
Boeing, considered a bellwether for international trade, hit an all-time high on Tuesday and traded up 1.5 percent. Caterpillar shares, meanwhile, gained 2.2 percent.
General Motors shares gained 2.1 percent after the company announced Honda is investing in GM's Cruise Holdings subsidiary. The two automakers will work toward building an autonomous vehicle. GM also said Honda's investment puts Cruise's valuation at $14.6 billion.