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US: Dow edges closer to 20,000 as banks, industrials gain

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks pushed higher on Tuesday with the Dow nudging closer to 20,000 points behind strong gains by banking and industrial shares.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Caterpillar all won more than one percent as the Dow climbed to within 13 points of the milestone early in the session before retreating somewhat.

"There's still a positive flow to the market, it seems a party that investors want to be part of," said Jack Ablin of BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

"We'll see what happens after the new year, but right now the path of least resistance is higher." The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 19,974.62, up 0.5 per cent.

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The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 2,270.76, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 5,483.94.

General Mills dropped 2.6 per cent as it reported a 27 per cent decline in second-quarter earnings to US$227.4 million.

TripAdvisor jumped 5.0 per cent as it announced an agreement to begin adding hotel listings from some Expedia brands to its platform. Expedia added 0.8 percent.

AMC Entertainment advanced 0.6 per cent as the Justice Department announced it approved AMC's US$1.2 billion takeover of rival Carmike after agreeing to divest movie theaters in 15 US markets. Carmike gained 0.5 per cent.

Rite Aid jumped 5.4 per cent on news it reached a deal to sell 865 Rite Aid pharmacies to pharmacy chain Fred's for US$950 million, part of its effort to win regulatory approval for the Walgreens Boots Alliance's acquisition of Rite Aid.

Fred's surged 81.2 per cent, while Walgreens Boots gained 0.3 per cent.