The Dow and the S&P 500 edged up to end at record highs on Friday, wrapping up four straight months of gains, after mixed economic data gave investors little reason to rush into stocks.
After the benchmark S&P 500's latest record closing high - its fourth in the last five sessions - gains may be harder to come by until the market's direction becomes more clear. Payrolls data and a European Central Bank meeting will be the major catalysts next week.
U.S. consumer spending fell for the first time in a year in April, but the decline probably will not change expectations for a rebound in growth this quarter. An inflation gauge rose at its quickest pace since November 2012 while business activity in the U.S. Midwest rose in May at its strongest pace since October 2013.
"Very mixed signals, which prevents bears from getting aggressive and keeps bulls in place. It’s effectively forestalled any real significant directional shift to what we’ve seen thus far," said Peter Kenny, chief executive officer of Clearpool Group in New York.
"This is an unusual time and place in the market, in that we are in a real holding pattern, and the markets are looking for more in the way of confirmation in the way of economic data that suggests our economic activity is accelerating."
Equity investors kept an eye on U.S. Treasury yields. The 10-year note's yield rose after the strong Chicago PMI data, but remained below 2.5 percent, near an 11-month low hit during Thursday's session.
The low yields helped to bolster dividend-paying stocks. High-yielding utilities .SPLRCU ranked as the best-performing S&P sector on Friday, up 0.8 percent for the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 18.43 points or 0.11 percent, to 16,717.17. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.54 points or 0.18 percent, to 1,923.57. The Nasdaq Composite .IXICfell 5.33 points or 0.13 percent, to 4,242.62.
Friday's gain lifted the Dow above its previous record close of 16,715.44 set on May 13.
For the week, the Dow rose 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent, and the Nasdaq climbed 1.4 percent.
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