By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average scored its sixth straight record high on Thursday, but just barely, while the S&P 500 edged lower due to declining energy stocks.
It was a mixed day on wall Street as investors digested recent gains and sold banks that have been big winners in the "Trump rally" that has seen the S&P 500 rise about 5 percent so far in 2017, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 4 percent.
Signs of an improving economy and promises by President Donald Trump to cut corporate taxes and reduce financial regulations have been behind much of the recent gains. Now, with a strong fourth-quarter earnings season mostly complete, many investors say they need concrete signs of progress from Trump to justify more gains.
"Some of the excitement and enthusiasm over earnings and those Trump growth initiatives is starting to shift to more practical, day-to-day events," said Jeff Kravetz, a Phoenix-based regional investment director of the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank.
The energy sector <.SPNY> declined 1.37 percent, following oil prices lower as traders weighed swelling U.S. inventories against possible renewed efforts by major oil producers to reduce a price-sapping glut.
The S&P 500 consumer discretionary index <.SPLRCD> lost 0.44 percent, with TripAdvisor sinking 10.97 percent after posting lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit.
The consumer discretionary index is trading at almost 19 times expected earnings, while the S&P 500 is trading at 17 times expected earnings, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
Cisco Systems rose 2.38 percent after its quarterly report late the day before, helping push the Dow into positive territory by the close of trading after spending most of the day with a loss.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> ended up 0.04 percent to close at 20,619.77, its sixth straight record-high close. The S&P 500 <.SPX> had lost 0.09 percent to 2,347.22 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 0.08 percent to 5,814.90.
Wells Fargo slipped 0.73 percent after Credit Suisse downgraded its stock to "neutral" from "outperform".
NetEase jumped 14.08 percent following the Chinese online game developer's revenue beat.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies have risen about 7.3 percent, the strongest expansion since the third quarter of 2014, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts on average expect S&P 500 earnings for the first quarter to rise 10.7 percent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.33-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 56 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 153 new highs and 24 new lows.
About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, just above the daily average of 6.8 billion over the last 20 sessions.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish)