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 Monday, March 10, the 69th day of 2014. There are 296 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Numerous counterfeiters are around, taking advantage of the influx of currency to pass their worthless trash. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.J. Reimers, secretary and treasurer of the Rock Island Lumber and Manufacturing Co., on behalf of that firm, contributed $500 toward construction of a new Methodist church. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Samuel Ryerson, county recorder, was re-elected president of the 19th District of Knights of Pythias. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Three condemnation suits have been filed by the city of Rock Island to acquire property needed for an approach to the Rock Island-Davenport bridge, which has been under construction since March 6. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Plans for an eight-story Sheraton Inn in downtown Rock Island were announced today at a luncheon meeting at the Gay Nineties sponsored by the Rock Island Chamber of Commerce. Cost of the structure is estimated at $2.5 million. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Representatives of the Hardee's Golf Classic and tournament sponsor Hardee's Food Systems may meet next week with PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman to discuss a possible change in the tournament dates.