Tech­nol­ogy, health care stocks are big gain­ers

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Alex Veiga

In­vestors shrugged off geopo­lit­i­cal jit­ters Mon­day, send­ing U.S. stocks broadly higher and ex­tend­ing the mar­ket’s gains from last week.

Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, health care stocks and in­dus­trial firms ac­counted for much of the rally as traders fo­cused on the lat­est com­pany earn­ings and deal news. Oil prices fell af­ter surg­ing last week ahead of the U.S.-led mis­sile at­tack on Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram.

“It’s some re­lief from the global po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion over the week­end,” said Wil­lie Del­wiche, in­vest­ment strate­gist at Baird. “The other thing is we’ve had over the last few weeks par­tic­u­larly this build up in pes­simism, and that pro­vided some op­por­tu­nity for stocks to rally once the news of this event was out of the way.”

The S&P 500 in­dex rose 21.54 points, or 0.8 per­cent, to 2,677.84. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age gained 212.90 points, or 0.9 per­cent, to 24,573.04. The Nas­daq added 49.63 points, or 0.7 per­cent, to 7,156.28. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller-com­pany stocks picked up 13.52 points, or 0.9 per­cent, to 1,563.03.

The mar­ket was in rally mode from the start of trad­ing Mon­day, de­spite a sell-off among ma­jor in­dexes in Europe.

In­vestors seemed to put aside con­cerns over the geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions that led to Fri­day night’s mis­sile at­tack by the U.S., Britain and France on Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram. On Mon­day, the White House said it was con­sid­er­ing im­pos­ing ad­di­tional sanc­tions on Rus­sia, a key ally of Syr­ian leader Bashar As­sad.

In­stead, the mar­ket shifted its fo­cus to cor­po­rate Amer­ica. Wall Street is fore­cast­ing the strong­est growth in seven years for S&P 500 com­pa­nies, and the hope has been that healthy profit re­ports will steady the mar­ket fol­low­ing a rough cou­ple of months. Over the long term, stock prices tend to track the progress of cor­po­rate prof­its.

In­vestors wel­comed J.B. Hunt Trans­port Ser­vices’ lat­est quar­terly re­sults Mon­day. The trans­porta­tion com­pany said ship-

ping vol­umes grew in the first quar­ter and rates in­creased. Its shares climbed 6.2 per­cent to $119.75.

Bank of Amer­ica also got a post-earn­ings boost af­ter the lender posted a larger profit, helped by cor­po­rate tax cuts and ris­ing in­ter­est rates. Its shares rose 0.4 per­cent to $29.93.

A cou­ple of gam­bling com­pa­nies were among the big movers Mon­day.

Carl Ic­ahn’s com­pany struck a roughly $1.85 bil­lion deal that would fuse the gam­bling and ho­tel op­er­a­tions of Trop­i­cana En­ter­tain­ment to El­do­rado Re­sorts Inc. Trop­i­cana vaulted 26.8 per­cent to $69.75. El­do­rado jumped 16.2 per­cent to $41.50.

Truck and en­gine maker Nav­is­tar In­ter­na­tional jumped 9.8 per­cent to $40.71 af­ter Reuters re­ported that Volk­swa­gen might buy the com­pany.

Traders sold shares in WPP, the world’s largest ad agency, af­ter its CEO, Mar­tin Sor­rell, re­signed over an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into per­sonal mis­con­duct. An­a­lysts say his de­par­ture could leave the com­pany he founded three decades ago rud­der­less, but could also see parts sold off for higher value. The stock fell 4.7 per­cent to $80.56.

Oil prices fell back from spikes last week on fears over an es­ca­la­tion of strife in the Mid­dle East. Bench­mark U.S. crude de­clined $1.17, or 1.7 per­cent, to set­tle at $66.22 per bar­rel on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change. Brent crude, which is used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, slid $1.16, or 1.6 per­cent, to close at $71.42 per bar­rel.

Bond prices didn’t move much. The yield on the 10year Trea­sury held steady at 2.83 per­cent.

The dol­lar fell to 107.10 yen from 107.41 yen on Fri­day. The euro strength­ened to $1.2381 from $1.2334.

Gold rose $2.80 to $1,350.70 an ounce. Sil­ver added 2 cents to $16.68 an ounce. Cop­per gained 2 cents to $3.10 a pound.

In other en­ergy fu­tures trad­ing, heat­ing oil dropped 3 cents to $2.07 a gal­lon, while whole­sale gaso­line slid 3 cents to $2.04 a gal­lon. Nat­u­ral gas rose 2 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cu­bic feet.

Ma­jor in­dexes in Europe fin­ished mostly lower. Ger­many’s DAX lost 0.4 per­cent, while the CAC 40 in France ended essen­tially flat. The FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.9 per­cent.

Ear­lier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 in­dex rose 0.3 per­cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.6 per­cent. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 per­cent higher. Aus­tralia’s S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.2 per­cent.

RICHARD DREW — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

A statue of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton on the steps of Fed­eral Hall over­looks the New York Stock Ex­change.

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