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US markets closed mostly lower; Dow ekes out modest gain

The US markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday, though the Dow industrials eked out a modest gain to end in record territory. The broader market was weighed down by a selloff in financials, consumer discretionary and small-cap stocks amid concerns over the timing and ultimate shape of tax legislation working its way through Congress. Congressional Republican unveiled a long-awaited plan last week, though it was unclear when the policy could be enacted, what form it might take, or even whether it was likely to pass at all.

On the economy front, the number of job openings in the US rose slightly in September to 6.09 million, keeping them near a record high. Job openings have topped 6 million for four months in a row for the first time ever. Some 5.27 million people were hired, down from 5.42 million. And 5.24 million people lost their jobs, also down from the prior month. The so-called quits rate among private-sector employees was unchanged at 2.4%. The quit rate edged up to 2.2% from 2.1% if government workers are included. Meanwhile, consumer borrowing surged in September by the largest amount in almost a year after slowing in the prior month. Total consumer credit increased $20.8 billion in September to a record seasonally adjusted $3.79 trillion, posting an annual growth rate of 6.6%. That is up from a $13.1 billion gain in August. Economists had expected a gain of $17.4 billion. For the third quarter, consumer credit rose at a 5.5% annual rate, down from a 6.7% rate seen in all of 2016.

The Nasdaq dropped 18.65 points or 0.27 percent to 6,767.78, the S&P 500 edged lower by 0.49 points or 0.02 percent to 2,590.64, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 8.81 points or 0.04 percent to 23,557.23. 

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