The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high after bobbing above 11,500 for the first time, but profit-taking in technology stocks prevented the Nasdaq composite index from achieving its first close over 4000.
The broader market was mixed.
The Dow rose as high as 11,517.39 before closing 85.63 higher at 11,476.71, beating the closing record of 11,405.76 set last Thursday. The advance pushed this year's gain by the Dow to 19 percent.
The Nasdaq finished 3.27 lower at 3972.11, halting a seven-session streak of closing records, although the index cruised to 4022.14 earlier in the day. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 0.56, to 1457.66.
It was the second time in three sessions that the Nasdaq crossed 4000 and pulled back. Still, it was less than two months ago that the technology-dominated measure flew past 3000. And with a stunning 81.1 percent gain in 1999, the Nasdaq remains less than a percentage point shy of a record for the biggest one-year gain by a major U.S. index.
Stocks were helped along today by a report that consumer confidence soared in December to the highest level in 31 years as a three-decade low in unemployment continued to bolster optimism.
The report from the Conference Board, a private research group in New York, defied analysts' predictions of a decline in December.
Traders attributed some of today's gains to fund managers trying to add winning stocks to their portfolios before closing the books on the year. The Dow's big gainers included Alcoa, which rose 2-7/16, to 80 1/2. The aluminum producer has been a surprise star for the Dow in 1999, soaring nearly 125 percent for the year.
Also leading the Dow's advance were American Express, up 3 1/2 at 161 3/4, and United Technologies, up 3-3/16 at 64-3/16.
The late downturn in technology wiped out some hefty gains in the Internet group. Yahoo jumped as high as 420 but finished 24 3/4 lower at 390 1/4. Ariba, which provides electronic-commerce services, soared as high as 211 before finishing just a quarter-point higher at 183.
Many analysts expect a sluggish week on Wall Street as some traders and money managers stretch Christmas vacations into 2000. The low volume can exaggerate price swings throughout the market.
"It's going to get even thinner, and a thin market generally produces volatility," especially among technology shares, said Richard A. Dickson, a technical analyst at Scott & Stringfellow Inc. in Richmond.
In after-hours trading, Bloomberg News reported, Kushner-Locke Co. jumped after reporting a surge in earnings for the 1999 fiscal year. The maker of original feature films and television programming rose 4-9/32, to 8, in extended trading after falling 3/32 during the day.