US stocks closed mixed Wednesday as declines in bank stocks countered strength in the technology sector.
Analysts expect stocks to continue heading higher as the U.S. economy strengthens and Europe makes progress on its debt problems. Early Wednesday, European finance ministers formally approved a second package of bailout loans for Greece.
Investors welcomed news late Tuesday that most U.S. banks passed the Federal Reserve stress tests, but the tone was more cautious Wednesday as investors punished banks that came up short. While the financial sector was weak, technology companies helped support the market. For example, shares of Apple hit an all-time high, moving closer to $600.
In US economic news, the current account deficit for the fourth quarter grew to $124.1 billion, the Commerce Department said. Also, the United States, Japan, and the EU filed a trade complaint against China for its restrictions on exports of rare earth minerals.
The dollar fell against the pound, but rose versus the euro and the yen. Light sweet crude oil for April delivery decreased $1.28 to $105.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures for April delivery fell $51.30 to $1,642.90 an ounce.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 16.42, or 0.12 percent, to 13,194.10. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index fell 1.67, or 0.12 percent, to 1,394.28. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index increased 0.85, or 0.03 percent, to 3,040.73.