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Stock indexes reach new heights

NEW YORK -- U.S. stock indexes drifted back to record highs Wednesday as investors got ready for another round of corporate reports to begin. Shares of technology, health care and household goods companies all rose.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 4.60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,555.24. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,872.89. The Nasdaq composite rose 16.30 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,603.55. All three indexes finished at all-time highs. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged down 1.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,506.92.

PayPal, Visa, and Google's parent company Alphabet made some of the biggest gains as the market was little changed for the third day in a row. Banks slipped along with interest rates, and industrial companies took small losses.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's September meeting showed officials were split about whether they need to raise interest rates again soon. But they appeared to be getting used to the idea that inflation is going to stay lower than they had hoped. For years it has come up short of their 2 percent target.

Kristina Hooper, global markets strategist for Invesco, said one reason for that low inflation is continued fallout from the financial crisis a decade ago. In her view, many of the jobs that were lost after the 2008-09 meltdown were replaced by lower-paying ones.

"There are still a good portion of Americans who are making less today than they made before the global financial crisis," she said. "That's playing a role in lower wage growth and low inflation."

Hooper said inflation might increase if President Donald Trump and Congress pass a tax cut that encourages businesses to invest more money. She said businesses and consumers both feel optimistic about the economy, but they're reluctant to spend money because they're not sure what economic policy will look like.

Airline shares rose for the second day in a row. Delta Air Lines' profit and revenue were better than analysts anticipated, and the company also issued a strong forecast for the fourth quarter. Delta rose 37 cents to $53.07. It has surged 9 percent since Oct. 3, when it raised its third-quarter projections.

Johnson & Johnson led health care companies higher after it asked regulators to approve its drug apalutamide. It's intended for patients with a hard-to-treat form of prostate cancer. Johnson & Johnson stock climbed $2.75, or 2.1 percent, to $136.65.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.35 percent from 2.36 percent. That affected bank stocks because lower yields mean lower interest rates on loans, and lower profits for banks.

JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will report their quarterly results this morning as bank earnings get started.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 38 cents to $51.30 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 33 cents to $56.94 a barrel in London.

Gold fell $4.90 to $1,288.90 an ounce. Silver lost 7 cents to $17.13 an ounce. Copper gained 4 cents to $3.10 a pound.

Business on 10/12/2017

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