Dow extends record-setting streak to seven days

The Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record closing for the seventh straight day Wednesday as US stocks registered small gains.

The Dow added 5.22 points (0.04 percent) at 14,455.28, also its ninth straight day of gains.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.04 (0.13 percent) at 1,554.52, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite edged up 2.80 (0.09 percent) to 3,245.12.

Trade was slower as the overall market sought direction. Stocks gained support from a report of stronger-than expected retail sales in February, which grew 1.1 percent from January, though partly due to higher gasoline prices.

Trade was strong in software firms VMware and EMC, which together announced an ambitious new initiative for a cloud-based data processing company.

VMware gained 8.1 percent and EMC 1.8 percent on the announcement, which will require a substantial investment by the two.

Oil refiner Valero Energy sank 4.7 percent after being downgraded to "neutral" from "outperform" by Macquarie.

IBM and Boeing led gainers on the Dow, both rising 0.7 percent, while Alcoa was the biggest loser, down 1.0 percent.

Dole Foods sank 9.0 percent after reporting a fourth-quarter loss and acknowledging that conditions in the banana market remain "challenging."

On the Nasdaq, Facebook dropped 2.7 percent.

Bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 2.02 percent and the 30-year yield at 3.22 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.