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Markets Right Now: S&P 500 closes just short of record high

Posted January 4

— The latest on developments in financial markets (All times local):

4:00 p.m.

Major U.S. stock indexes are closing with solid gains, bringing the Standard & Poor's 500 and another key index just short of setting all-time highs.

Companies that make basic materials and consumer-focused stocks like retailers posted the biggest gains Wednesday.

Automakers Ford and General Motors each rose 5 percent after posting strong December sales numbers. Gap rose 3 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 60 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,942.

The S&P 500 gained 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,270, one point short of its record high close from last month.

The Nasdaq composite rose 47 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,477.

The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks rose 1.6 percent and was just shy of its own all-time high close.

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11:45 a.m.

Consumer-focused companies are leading U.S. market indexes higher in midday trading.

General Motors and Ford are jumping after reporting their December sales, and vehicle suppliers are also trading higher. GM and Ford each rose 5 percent.

Retailers are rising as the market builds on its gains from the day before. Gap also gained 5 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,918.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,268. The Nasdaq composite rose 40 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,470.

Bond prices didn't move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.45 percent.

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9:35 a.m.

U.S. stocks are opening higher, putting them on track for a second straight day of gains, as investors continue to buy companies that stand to benefit if the economy keeps growing and consumers continue to spend.

Consumer-focused companies are rising Wednesday morning, and retailer Gap is climbing 4 percent.

Companies that mine for metals and make basic materials were also trading higher. Gold and copper producer Freeport-McMoRan rose 2 percent.

General Motors is up 2 percent. Ford is also up almost 2 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,931.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,266. The Nasdaq composite rose 24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,455.

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