US STOCKS-Dow posts closing record high for 2nd day, boosted by banks

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* Financials up sharply

* Ford rises on upbeat production forecast for electric pickup (Updates to close)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters) – The Dow Jones Industrial Average scored a record closing high on Tuesday for a second straight day as financial and industrial shares rallied, while the Nasdaq fell.

The S&P 500 was near flat, with declines in shares of big growth names including Tesla Inc weighing on the index and the Nasdaq Composite.

Energy, financials and industrials were among sectors leading gains in the S&P 500. Helping sentiment, the World Health Organization cited increasing evidence that the coronavirus variant caused milder symptoms than previous variants.

The S&P 500 bank index was also up sharply.

Some strategists said financials and other value-oriented stocks could lead markets in the near term as investors gear up for interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve by mid-year to curb high inflation. U.S. Treasury yields rose for a second trading day.

Investors are “going to punish growth stocks with high valuations,” said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas.

“This is a time when defensive stocks and value stocks are likely to outperform.”

The S&P 500 value index jumped, while the S&P 500 growth index was down.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 3.17 points, or 0.07%, to end at 4,793.39 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 209.55 points, or 1.33%, to 15,623.25. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 213.47 points, or 0.58%, to 36,798.53.

Tesla shares fell, a day after jumping more than 13% on stronger-than-expected quarterly deliveries.

The U.S. central bank said last month it would end its pandemic-era bond buying in 2022, signaling at least three interest rate hikes for the year. Minutes from the meeting are expected to be released on Wednesday.

Ford Motor Co jumped after the automaker said it would nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles.

Earlier, U.S. manufacturing data for December showed some cooling in demand for goods, but investors took solace in signs of supply constraints easing. (Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)