Indexes again reach record highs
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks continued to climb Wednesday, led by technology, health care and energy companies. Media companies also rose as stock indexes set record highs.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 13.22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,473.83. The Dow Jones industrial average added 66.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,640.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 40.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,385.04. The Russell 2000 index of smallercompany stocks jumped 14.16 points, or 1 percent, to 1,441.77. All four indexes closed at record highs.
The technology segment of the S&P 500 index broke the record it set in March 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst. Energy companies rose with the price of oil as U.S. energy stockpiles continued to shrink. Cable channel companies Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after the Wall Street Journal reported that they are in talks to combine.
Stocks have been setting records for most of this year, and over the past few months they’ve gotten help from a recovery in corporate profits.
“Earnings are coming in better than expected so far,” said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist for BMO Global Asset Management. “Technology in particular has come in very strong.”
Apple shares rose 94 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $151.02, and Facebook advanced $1.28, or 0.8 percent, to $164.14. Cisco Systems rose 39 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $31.90.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals climbed after it reported strong results from studies of drug regimens that are intended to help hard-to-treat forms of cystic fibrosis. Vertex soared $27.53, or 20.8 percent, to $159.69. That followed a 2.3 percent gain Tuesday after regulators approved a breast cancer treatment the company developed. Vertex’s stock has more than doubled this year and is trading at record highs.
Other health care companies also traded higher, including health insurers. Cigna picked up $2.21, or 1.3 percent, to $174.31, and UnitedHealth added $2.34, or 1.3 percent, to $189.19. Those companies mostly fell Tuesday after the Republican health care bill failed in the Senate.
Oil prices rose after the U.S. government said fuel stockpiles shrank last week. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 72 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $47.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, gained 86 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $49.70 per barrel in London. Oil prices have mostly stayed between $40 and $55 a barrel since mid-February 2016 after they plunged from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014.
Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after The Wall Street
Journal reported that the two companies are in talks to combine. Scripps, which owns HGTV, the Food Network and the Travel Channel, climbed $9.87, or 14.7 percent, to $76.89. Discovery Communications, which runs TLC and Animal Planet, gained $1.13, or 4.3 percent, to $27.18.
Homebuilders jumped after the Commerce Department said construction of new homes rose 8 percent in June, breaking a three-month losing streak. Home construction is up slightly this year, but not enough to make up for a decline in older homes being listed for sale.
Spice-maker McCormick agreed to buy RB Foods, the food division of Reckitt Benckiser, for $4.2 billion. That will allow McCormick to add brands including French’s Mustard and Frank’s RedHot. The price was higher than some analysts expected, and McCormick shares fell $5.07, or 5.2 percent, to $92.07.
Bond prices inched lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.27 percent from 2.26 percent.