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Stocks End Mostly Lower as Bond Yields Tumble

Stocks end mostly lower as traders assess stronger-than-expected earnings and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's continued dovishness.

Stocks finished mostly lower Thursday as traders assessed stronger-than-expected earnings and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's continued dovishness, while concern about global growth rose as variants of the COVID-19 virus spread.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 53 points, or 0.15%, to 34,987, the S&P 500 fell 0.33% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended down 0.7%. 

Leading the Dow industrials higher: Honeywell  (HON) - Get Report, up 2.2%, and insurer UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get Report, up 1.3%. Salesforce  (CRM) - Get Report slipped 2%.

Shares of Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report and Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Report declined.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury extended recent declines, falling to 1.296% on Thursday.

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week to a pandemic low of 360,000.

Stocks closed mostly higher Wednesday after Powell said in congressional testimony the Fed wasn't ready to scale back on its support since the U.S. economy has a ways to go before recovering. 

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Powell also said -- as he has many times before -- that rising price pressures will be temporary and will moderate through the end of the year.

“Investors right now are focusing on earnings because they are still buying what the Fed is saying about inflation (and) that it’s too early to start to raise rates and potentially slow a reopening economy,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

Powell resumed his testimony Thursday before the Senate.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, in contrast to Powell, said the central bank has seen progress being made with respect to its stated goals on inflation and employment.

“We don’t want to jar markets or anything -- but I think it is time to end these emergency measures,” Bullard said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. 

As for earnings, Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Report posted a stronger-than-expected second quarter on revenue gains in investment banking and wealth management. The stock ticked up 0.2%.

UnitedHealth, meanwhile, reported quarterly earnings that topped forecasts and raised its full-year profit forecast as pandemic-delayed medical procedures boosted fees for the country's biggest health care insurance company.

Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Report finished 0.9% lower Thursday after the streaming giant said it was planning to expand into videogames.