FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of a China yuan note
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of world stock markets dipped on Thursday, pausing after notching a string of record highs, as a decline in Boeing and healthcare names weighed on U.S. equities.
Shares on Wall Street took a breather after the strongest performance of the year for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the benchmark S&P 500 saw the indexes close above 26,000 and 2,800, respectively, for the first time.
Equities were held in check by a 2.64 percent drop in aerospace company Boeing <BA.N>, the best performing Dow component so far the year. Declines in Merck <MRK.N>, down 1.85 percent and Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N>, off 0.52 percent, also pulled the healthcare sector lower.
"This might just be a little bit of a pullback, especially after yesterday's significant gain, until we get further into the earnings season," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.
Mixed economic reports also gave investors reason for pause as weekly initial jobless claims hit a 45-year low but U.S. homebuilding recorded its biggest drop in just over a year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 92.35 points, or 0.35 percent, to 26,023.3, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 3.38 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,799.18 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 5.06 points, or 0.07 percent, to 7,303.34.
European shares closed modestly higher, led by a rise in cyclical stocks.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> rose 0.21 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.07 percent.
Investors have drawn inspiration from an improving global economy and the onset of the U.S. corporate earnings season in the recent run higher. Earnings growth for the quarter is forecast at 12.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning.
Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes reached a 10-month high after China reported fourth-quarter growth that accelerated for the first time in seven years.
Benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> were last down 8/32 in price to yield 2.6053 percent, from 2.578 percent late on Wednesday. The data drove European counterparts higher as well, with Germany's 10-year bond yield <DE10YT=RR> hitting a six-month top at 0.595 percent.
The U.S. dollar fell as traders piled into the euro, yen <JPY=>, sterling <GBP=> and other major currencies amid worries over a possible U.S. government shutdown as lawmakers struggled to cobble together a federal budget deal.
The dollar was last down 0.32 percent against the euro <EUR=> at $1.2223.
Republican lawmakers are scrambling to pass a temporary measure to keep the government open. A House vote on the funding extension is expected after 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT).
Oil prices recovered from early losses to turn slightly higher after a record drawdown of U.S. crude stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub.
U.S. crude <CLcv1> rose 0.06 percent to $64.01 per barrel and Brent <LCOcv1> was last at $69.36, down 0.03 percent.
(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)