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US markets closed record high for second straight session

The US markets closed higher on Wednesday, with all three major stock indices closed at a record for a second straight session, though trade remained subdued as investors searched for catalysts that could breathe new life into the rally. According to a study released, US President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress would have a hard time slashing the corporate tax rate to below 26 percent, even if they eliminated nearly every business tax preference. Republicans have vowed to slash business tax rates, saying it would boost economic growth and help create jobs.

On the economy front, US inflation at the wholesale level rebounded toward the end of summer, but most of the increase reflected higher gasoline prices. The producer price index rose 0.2% last month. A nearly 10% jump in the cost of gas accounted for most of the increase in wholesale inflation last month. Wholesale food costs, on the other hand, posted the biggest decline in more than two years. The increase in prices in August pushed the 12-month rate of wholesale inflation to 2.4% from 1.9%, just a tick below a five-year high. The yearly change in the so-called core rate of inflation, however, was unchanged at 1.9%. The closely followed core rate strips out the volatile categories of energy, food and trade and is viewed as a more stable barometer of inflationary trends.

On the other hand, the federal government ran a budget deficit of $108 billion in August, just slightly more than in the same month a year ago. For the fiscal year to date, however, the shortfall is running well ahead of where it was in August of last year. Through this August, the deficit is $674 billion, up 9% from the year-ago period. The government's budget year runs October through September. So far this fiscal year, spending is up 3% compared to a year ago, and receipts are up 2%. The Treasury said that, if not for timing-related issues including one less Friday in fiscal 2017, the year-to-date shortfall would have been higher, at $705 billion. In August, receipts of individual taxes declined by 1% as overall receipts dipped by 2%. Spending in the month fell 1%, with spending down notably on agriculture, education and other programs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 39.32 points or 0.18 percent to 22,158.18, the Nasdaq edged higher by 5.91 points or 0.09 percent to 6,460.19, and the S&P 500 gained 1.89 points or 0.08 percent to 2,498.37.

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