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US stock indexes close mostly up; new highs for S&P 500, Dow

Big-name companies notched gains on Wall Street Tuesday, delivering more records for two of the major stock indexes.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average finished at all-time highs for the second day this week, while a slide in technology stocks pulled the Nasdaq lower. Small-company stocks also lagged.

Banks and other financial stocks led the gainers as the Federal Reserve met to discuss interest rates. The central bank is expected to raise rates for the third time this year on Wednesday, which allows banks to charge more to lend money. 

Technology stocks declined the most. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices closed lower. Bitcoin futures fell on their second day of trading.

"It's another day, another all-time high," said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.

The S&P 500 index rose 4.12 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,664.11. The Dow gained 118.77 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,504.80. The Nasdaq lost 12.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,862.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 3.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,516.12. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Even though inflation has remained low, the Fed has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened. While the central bank is widely expected to announce a 0.25 percent increase in short-term interest rates Wednesday, investors will be listening for any hints that the Fed could pick up its pace on rate hikes next year. 

"There's a chance at the meeting tomorrow they're going to be showing four rate hikes next year in their forecast as opposed to three, where it had been in September," Nick said. "So this is seen as a not just sort of a one-off hike like we've had in the past, but a continuation of a quarterly cadence of rate hikes."

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will have policy announcements on Thursday. Neither is expected to change rates, leaving the focus on their economic forecasts.

The prospect of another short-term interest rate hike helped lift bank shares. Goldman Sachs Group rose $7.55, or 3 percent, to $257.68.

The latest batch of corporate earnings, outlooks and deal news also helped move markets Tuesday.

Several shopping mall owners closed higher after Australian company Westfield agreed to be bought by France's Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7 billion. Macerich gained $3.18, or 5 percent, to $66.47, while Simon Property Group rose $4.09, or 2.5 percent, to $166.35. GGP picked up 38 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $23.77.

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