Major U.S. stock indexes close mostly higher

Major U.S. stock indexes ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding modestly to its gains a day after closing above 18,000 for the first time.

It was the Dow’s sixth straight gain, coming during a half-day trading session ahead of the Christmas holiday.

“We’re still giddy after yesterday’s GDP (report),” said Chris Gaffney, a senior market strategist at EverBank Wealth Management. “That’s what’s mainly driving this market.”

The Dow gained 6.04 points Wednesday to close at 18,030.21. That’s up 0.03 percent from a day earlier.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.29 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,081.88. That’s slightly below the S&P’s most-recent all-time high recorded on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq composite added 8.05 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,773.47.

U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.26 percent.

Average mortgage rate up but still near historic low

Average U.S. mortgage rates rose slightly this week but the benchmark 30-year low remained very close to the 19-month low hit last week.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Wednesday that the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage edged up to 3.83 percent this week from 3.80 percent last week, which had been the lowest level since May 2013.

Other mortgage rates were also up by small amounts but all remained near historically low levels that should be a boon to potential homebuyers.

The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, stood at 3.10 percent, compared to 3.09 percent last week. The rate for a one-year adjustable rate mortgage rose to 2.39 percent, compared to 2.38 percent last week.

A year ago, the 30-year mortgage stood at 4.48 percent.

Sears Holdings chief of e-commerce resigns

Sears Holdings e-commerce chief Imran Jooma has resigned, creating a vacancy in a key position as the struggling retailer banks on technology to turn around its flagging fortunes.

Jooma, who joined the Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings in 2007, resigned Dec. 17 and will leave the company Feb. 6, the firm said in a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Jooma served as executive vice president and president of online, marketing, pricing and financial services.

The company, which owns the Sears and Kmart retail stores, has seen years of revenue declines and is closing hundreds of stores to invest in its loyalty program and integrated retail. It also has lost money for 10 straight quarters.

MF Global Holdings ordered to reimburse $1.21 billion

MF Global Holdings Ltd. must pay $1.21 billion to reimburse customers for losses sustained when the brokerage firm failed in 2011.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Wednesday that a New York court required the payment to ensure that claims made of its subsidiary, MF Global Inc., are paid. The order also imposed a $100 million civil penalty on MF Global Holdings. The company admitted to unlawful use of customer funds as charged by the CFTC.

– From news service reports