NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow was held back by a slump in McDonald's stock Wednesday, leaving it short of a record.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 35.79 points to close at 13,982.91. The Dow has gained 6.7 percent this year and is just 182 points below the record close of 14,164 it set in October 2007.
McDonald's was the biggest decliner in the Dow, losing $1.10 to $94, as investors worried that Americans will spend less on eating out following a rise in Social Security taxes at the beginning of the year. The government reported early Wednesday that spending by Americans barely grew last month.
Other fast-food companies also fell. Buffalo Wild Wings stock plunged $4.52 to $76.55 after its earnings fell short of analysts' expectations. Burger King and Wendy's also fell.
"Consumer spending is coming under pressure," said Bryan Elliott, an analyst at Raymond James. "It's the easiest way to save money, stay at home and cook."
The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.90 point to 1,520.33. The index climbed as high as 1,524 during the day, the highest since November 2007. It is up 6.6 percent so far this year.
Investors sent General Electric and Comcast higher after GE agreed Tuesday to sell its stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast for $16.7 billion. GE said it would use up to $10 billion of the money to buy back its own stock. GE rose 81 cents to $23.39. Comcast advanced $1.16 to $40.13.
Trading has been relatively quiet in recent days following a strong opening to the year. The Dow logged its best January in almost two decades after lawmakers reached a last-minute deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of sweeping tax increases and spending cuts. Investors are also becoming more optimistic that the housing market is recovering and that hiring is picking up.
"We're cautiously optimistic on stocks," said Colleen Supran, principal at Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough. "There is some indication that we could be continuing on this slow growth trajectory."
Supran said investors should still be prepared for volatility in the stock market and not assume that the gains from January and so far in February will set the pattern for the rest of the year.
Strengthening the economy and creating jobs were key topics in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address late Tuesday, the first since his re-election. Although the economy is healthier than it was four years ago, growth remains slow and unemployment high.
Obama announced that the U.S. will begin talks with the European Union on a trans-Atlantic trade agreement. He also called for increased spending to fix roads and bridges and the first increase in the minimum wage in six years. The president also challenged deeply divided lawmakers to find compromises to avoid massive, automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to take place March 1.
The government reported that Americans' spending at retail businesses and restaurants slowed last month after higher taxes cut their paychecks. Retail sales growth slowed to 0.1 percent in January, from a 0.5 percent increase in December.
The Nasdaq composite rose 10.38 points to 3,196.88.
As stocks have advanced this year, bond prices have slumped.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, rose 4 basis points to 2.02 percent. The yield on the note has risen more than 30 basis points since the start of the year.
Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital. 1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post . 1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.