S&P tech in­dex sur­passes 2000 high

Health care firms and en­ergy com­pa­nies also help drive mar­kets to records.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Mar­ley Jay

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 tech­nol­ogy part of the Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex fi­nally 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 net­work 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 last few months they’ve got­ten a boost 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.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex rose 13.22 points, or 0.5 per­cent, to 2,473.83. De­spite a sharp drop from IBM, 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 smaller-com­pany stocks jumped 14.16 points, or 1 per­cent, to 1,441.77. All four in­dexes closed at record highs.

The S&P 500 tech­nol­ogy in­dex fi­nally sur­passed its peak from late March 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom. That in­dex came close to an all-time high in early June, but af­ter that tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies went into a swoon that lasted about a month. Their re­cov­ery over the last two weeks has helped the Nas­daq com­pos­ite pull off a rally as well.

Ap­ple picked up 94 cents to $151.02 and Face­book ad­vanced $1.28 to $164.14 while 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 it is trad­ing at all-time 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-backed 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 of 2016 af­ter they plunged from more than $100 a bar­rel in mid-2014.

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