Tech­nol­ogy, health in­sur­ers push stock mar­kets higher

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Business - By Mar­ley Jay

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks made solid gains Thurs­day as Ap­ple and Qual­comm led a rally in tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. Drug­mak­ers and health in­sur­ers also rose.

Ap­ple changed course and rose a day after it in­tro­duced three new iPhone mod­els and updates to the Ap­ple Watch. Chip­mak­ers re­cov­ered after a steep drop the day be­fore.

Stock in­dexes in Turkey and other emerg­ing mar­kets rose after the Turk­ish cen­tral bank raised in­ter­est rates sharply in re­sponse to the na­tion’s cur­rency cri­sis.

Tech­nol­ogy stocks are edg­ing higher after a four-day los­ing streak last week, their long­est since April. In­vestors wor­ried about the prospect of heav­ier reg­u­la­tion for com­pa­nies like Face­book, Twit­ter and Al­pha­bet.

That un­cer­tainty comes right be­fore a shift in the tech sec­tor later this month. Com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Face­book, Net­flix and Al­pha­bet, Google’s par­ent com­pany, will move into a new group called “com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices.”

Lind­sey Bell, an in­vest­ment strate­gist with CFRA, said the changes could en­cour­age in­vestors to look at smaller tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies that may have been over­looked com­pared to giants like Ap­ple and Al­pha­bet.

“Some of these soft­ware com­pa­nies do have great po­ten­tial, and I think they’ve been un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated,” she said.

The S&P 500 in­dex gained 15.26 points, or 0.5 per­cent, to 2,904.18. The Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age rose 147.07 points, or 0.6 per­cent, to 26,145.99. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite jumped 59.48 points, or 0.7 per­cent, to 8,013.71. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of small­er­com­pany stocks dipped 1.38 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 1,714.32.

Ap­ple climbed 2.4 per­cent to $226.41 and Qual­comm rose 4 per­cent to $74.61 after it an­nounced a $16 bil­lion stock re­pur­chase. Other chip­mak­ers in­clud­ing Sky­works and Broad­com also rose.

In­surance com­pa­nies re­versed their re­cent loses and home im­prove­ment re­tail­ers slipped as Hur­ri­cane Florence weak­ened some­what. The slow-mov­ing storm is ex­pected to reach the East Coast Fri­day and might re­main around the Caroli­nas for days, but in­vestors fig­ure that it won’t do as much dam­age as pre­vi­ously es­ti­mated, and prop­erty in­sur­ers won’t have to pay out as much.

Re­nais­sanceRe jumped 2.7 per­cent to $130.95 and Ever­est Re climbed 3.1 per­cent to $220.69.

Su­per­mar­ket com­pany Kroger dropped 9.9 per­cent to $28.58 after its sales fell short of Wall Street fore­casts.

The Depart­ment of La­bor said its in­dex of con­sumer prices edged up 0.2 per­cent in Au­gust, and it’s risen 2.7 per­cent over the past year. That’s a bit slower than the 2.9 per­cent it re­ported in July. In­vestors have wor­ried that faster in­fla­tion could threaten eco­nomic growth and the cur­rent bull mar­ket.

Ca­ble channel op­er­a­tor Dis­cov­ery rose an­other 3.7 per­cent to $31.84. The stock jumped 7.7 per­cent Wed­nes­day after the com­pany an­nounced a deal that will make more of its pro­gram­ming avail­able on the stream­ing ser­vice Hulu.

The S&P 500 is di­vided into 11 in­dus­trial sec­tors that track in­dus­tries like en­ergy and health care. A few of those sec­tors will change be­fore the start of trad­ing on Sept. 24.

The new com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices group will in­clude Face­book, Net­flix, Al­pha­bet and Twit­ter, as well as me­dia com­pa­nies like Dis­ney, tele­com com­pa­nies like AT&T, which re­cently bought the me­dia con­glom­er­ate Time Warner, and video game mak­ers like Ac­tivi­sion Bl­iz­zard.

The tech­nol­ogy sec­tor will get smaller, but it will still be the largest por­tion of the bench­mark in­dex. Ms. Bell, of CFRA, said the changes might cause some volatil­ity in the stock mar­ket as funds ad­just their hold­ings. But she said the changes should make the two sec­tors a bit eas­ier to un­der­stand.

Turkey’s cen­tral bank raised its key in­ter­est rate to con­tain the na­tion’s cur­rency cri­sis and in­fla­tion. The Turk­ish lira rose 4.4 per­cent against the U.S. dol­lar and Turkey’s main stock in­dex gained 2.4 per­cent.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan had re­peat­edly and pub­licly pushed the bank to keep rates low. That shook in­vestors’ con­fi­dence, as they grew wor­ried about the bank’s in­de­pen­dence and Turkey’s abil­ity to re­act to in­fla­tion, slow­ing growth, and its diplo­matic spat with the U.S.

The stock in­dexes of Ar­gentina, Rus­sia and Mex­ico also rose. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng in­dex jumped 2.5 per­cent after it fell for nine of the pre­vi­ous 10 days.

Acorda Ther­a­peu­tics dropped 2.4 per­cent to $18.05 after an­nounc­ing that the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion will take three more months to re­view its in­haled Parkinson’s disease treat­ment In­brija.

The stock sank 25 per­cent Mon­day after Acorda said an ap­peals court ruled that four patents on its drug Ampyra are not valid, paving the way for other com­pa­nies to sell their own ver­sions. The stock has plunged 34 per­cent over an eight-day los­ing streak.

Gold­man Sachs ended an 11-day los­ing streak. It rose 0.1 per­cent to $228.33.

Bench­mark U.S. crude slid 2.5 per­cent to $68.59 a bar­rel in New York. It jumped 4.3 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous two days. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, shed 2 per­cent to $78.18 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

Whole­sale gaso­line fell 2.1 per­cent to $1.99 a gal­lon. Heat­ing oil lost 1.5 per­cent to $2.22 a gal­lon. Nat­u­ral gas slipped 0.4 per­cent to $2.82 per 1,000 cu­bic feet.

Bond prices ticked lower. The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note rose to 2.97 per­cent from 2.96 per­cent.

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