US stocks on course for higher close, new records

FAN Editor

U.S. stocks moved modestly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday, on course for the major stock indexes to set new records. Technology stocks and banks were among the biggest gainers as investors weighed the latest batch of company earning news. IBM surged on strong quarterly results. Crude oil prices edged higher after an early fade.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,563 as of 2:19 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 165 points, or 0.7 percent, to 23,162, lifted by a big gain in IBM. The Nasdaq composite added 9 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,633. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,507. The S&P 500 and Dow set records on Monday and Tuesday.

THE QUOTE: Despite the market’s recent string of record highs and the Dow’s move above 23,000 points, stocks can still grind higher as long as the economy continues to expand and companies grow revenue, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

“Overall, the underpinning for the market is solid,” Krosby said. “You have global growth picking up the way it has over the last quarter, it’s an indication that demand is picking up as well and it’s why you have global markets doing well.”

BETTING ON BANKS: Financial stocks notched some of the biggest gains. Assurant surged $5.74, or 6 percent, to $101.60.

TECH STAR: IBM jumped 9.6 percent after the technology and consulting company delivered strong quarterly results. Its shares were on track for their biggest daily gain since January 2009. They picked up $14.13 to $160.67.

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DONE DEAL: Anthem, the second-largest U.S. health insurer, rose 2.1 percent after announcing that it’s entered a prescription benefits management deal with CVS. Anthem shares added $3.86 to $191.12. CVS rose $1.35, or 1.9 percent, to $73.98.

BANKING ON IT: Northern Trust shares picked up 2.58 percent after the bank’s earnings and revenue beat Wall Street’s estimates. The bank also said it plans to cut $250 million in annual spending by 2020. The stock added $2.51 to $93.61.

WATCHING THE WATCHERS: The Nielsen company climbed 4.2 percent after the long-time tracker of TV viewership said it now has a way to collect details on the number of people who watch programs on streaming video services like Netflix and Amazon. Nielsen said that eight television networks and studios, including ABC and NBC, have already subscribed to its new service. The stock rose $1.69 to $41.69.

DO OR DO NOT: Electronic Arts slid 2.5 percent after the video game company said it will postpone the release of an upcoming “Star Wars” game to make changes. The game was scheduled to be released next year or early in 2019. EA is also closing down its Visceral Games studio. Shares lost $2.86 to $113.12.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34 percent from 2.30 percent late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Oil prices recovered from an early slide. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 13 cents to $52.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 17 cents to $58.05 a barrel in London.

Wavering oil prices throughout much of the day weighed on energy stocks. Chevron slid $2.11, or 1.8 percent, to $118.11.

METALS: Gold fell $3.20 to $1,283 an ounce. Silver slid 4 cents to $17 an ounce. Copper lost 2 cents to $3.18 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.91 yen from 112.18 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1786 from $1.1772.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European stock markets were moving higher. Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares added 0.4 percent. U.S. stocks were poised for a solid opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed. South Korea’s Kospi lost nearly 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat.

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