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US Stocks Eke Out Last-Minute Gains    02/24 16:07

   A late push helped U.S. stocks finish higher Friday after indexes spent most 
of the day lower. There was far more selling than buying on Wall Street 
overall, but the Dow Jones industrial average managed to extend its winning 
streak to an 11th day.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- A late push helped U.S. stocks finish higher Friday after 
indexes spent most of the day lower. There was far more selling than buying on 
Wall Street overall, but the Dow Jones industrial average managed to extend its 
winning streak to an 11th day.

   Energy companies and banks struggled. Investors continued to buy safer 
assets like government bonds, gold, and stocks that pay large dividends, such 
as utility and telephone companies. That's been a familiar pattern over the 
last few days.

   After a long string of gains earlier in February, stocks wobbled this week 
and bond prices jumped, which sent yields down. That hurts banks by forcing 
rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans lower.

   Strategist Jerry Lucas of UBS Wealth Management said a number of factors 
weighed on stocks Friday. That includes political considerations in the U.S., 
such as questions about President Donald Trump's upcoming tax reform proposal, 
and impending elections and corporate earnings in Europe.

   "It's the uncertainty of what the ultimate tax package will be ... and how 
long it will take that package to pass," said Lucas. "The markets don't like 
all of this uncertainty."

   The Dow fell as much as 76 points during the day but recovered to gain 11.44 
points, or just under 0.1 percent, to 20,821.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 
index rose 3.53 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,367.34. Both indexes are at 
all-time highs. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.80 points, or 0.2 percent, to 
5,845.31. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, slid 0.1 
points to 1,394.52.

   Bond prices sank again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.32 
percent from 2.39 percent. Investment banks and insurers traded lower as well.

   Investors bought utility stocks and phone company stocks, which pay large 
dividends similar to bonds. Exelon gained $1.20, or 3.3 percent, to $37.18 and 
NextEra Energy rose $2.77, or 2.2 percent, to $130.96. AT&T picked up 41 cents, 
or 1 percent, to $42.36.

   Gold and silver continued to rise. Gold picked up $6.90, or 0.6 percent, to 
$1,258.30 an ounce. Gold is trading at its highest price since just after the 
presidential election, though it's down sharply from last summer. Silver added 
22 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $18.34 an ounce and copper picked up 4 cents, or 
1.4 percent, to $2.70 a pound after a steep loss the previous day.

   Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 46 cents to $53.99 a barrel in New York. Brent 
crude, the standard for pricing international oils, fell 59 cents, or 1 
percent, to $55.99 a barrel in London.

   Energy companies continued to trade lower. They've fallen sharply over the 
last month. The S&P 500 energy company index is down about 7 percent this year 
while the broader S&P 500 is up almost 6 percent.

   Nordstrom jumped after it disclosed a better-than-expected quarterly profit 
with help from strong sales online and at Nordstrom Rack. Its shares gained 
$2.52, or 5.7 percent, to $46.46. Kohl's also rose $2.08, or 5.1 percent, to 
$42.99. That helped consumer-focused companies climb higher.

   Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells data-center hardware and other 
commercial tech gear to big organizations, slumped after it cut its profit 
estimate for the year. Its business was hurt by the strong dollar, expenses, 
and other problems that it said will be "near-term." HP Enterprise's quarterly 
sales dropped 10 percent and weren't as strong as analysts hoped. Its stock 
skidded $1.70, or 6.9 percent, to $22.96.

   For-profit prison operator Geo Group rose $1.55, or 3.3 percent, to $48.92 
and CoreCivic added $1.03, or 3 percent, to $35.03. Late Thursday, Attorney 
General Jeff Sessions directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to continue doing 
business with private prison operators. That reversed an Obama administration 
policy that sent the stocks tumbling when it was announced in August.

   The companies operate detention facilities used by Immigration and Customs 
enforcement as well as prisons and they get a lot of their revenue from 
contracts with the federal government. Since Trump was elected president their 
stocks have soared, as investors expected the Obama-era policy would be 
reversed while Trump's policies toward immigration and criminal justice would 
strengthen their business. CoreCivic has climbed 147 percent since the election 
and Geo Group has doubled in value.

   In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline declined 1 cent to $1.51 a 
gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.64 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 1 
cent to $2.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

   The dollar slid to 111.98 yen from 112.75 yen. The euro fell to $1.0565 from 

   The DAX in Germany fell 1.2 percent and France's CAC 40 slumped 0.9 percent. 
In Britain the FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 
percent and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.6 percent. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong 
fell 0.5 percent. 


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