Stocks edge up ahead of Thanksgiving break
New York • The stock market crept higher Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Major market indexes got a slight lift after news broke of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The truce was announced by Egypt's foreign minister and confirmed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A week of fighting has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points to 1,390. Bank stocks and utilities fell the most, while industrial companies rose the most, but no category moved more than 0.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 54 points to 12,842. Two expensive Dow stocks IBM and United Technologies each rose more than $1, giving the blue-chip average a lift. High-dollar stocks in the Dow carry more weight.
The Nasdaq composite index gained nine points to 2,926.
Deere, the maker of tractors and other farm and construction equipment, was down 4 percent. It reported a quarterly profit of $1.75 per share, missing Wall Street expectations of $1.88.
Chipotle Mexican Group, the restaurant chain, climbed 1.7 percent. It announced late Tuesday that it would buy back an additional $100 million of its own stock. That's in addition to a $100 billion buyback plan launched Oct. 18.
The quiet open Wednesday followed an uneventful finish Tuesday. The Dow dropped as much as 94 points after a warning from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about federal budget talks, then recovered to close down just seven points.
The stock market will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early Friday.
In the bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note inched up to 1.68 percent.
European markets were mostly higher. Stocks climbed 0.4 percent in France and 0.2 percent in Germany. Asian markets fared better. The Nikkei index in Japan climbed 0.9 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong 1.7 percent.