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Sunday December 17th, 2017 10:07PM

Stocks jump as relieved investors buy bank, insurance, tech

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks are jumping Monday, following global markets higher, after Hurricane Irma weakened without causing as much damage as many had feared. Travel companies and insurers are also rising.

Home-improvement companies like Lowe's and Home Depot, which rallied last week, fell. Bond prices fell, sending yields higher. There was also relief among investors that a national holiday passed in North Korea without that country escalating tensions with the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 20 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,481 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. That put the index on track for a record high. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 190 points, or 0.9 percent, to 21,988. The Nasdaq composite jumped 74 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,434, near the record it set early this month. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 13 points, or 1 percent, to 1,412.

STORMY WEATHER: Irma hit the U.S. as a major Category 4 hurricane Sunday and is still battering Florida and Georgia. It's caused severe flooding and knocked out power to millions, but the storm weakened shortly before it came ashore. Small insurers, especially ones that do a lot of business in Florida, climbed. HCI Group jumped $4.35, or 14.1 percent, to $35.12 while Heritage Insurance gained $1.56, or 16.6 percent, to $10.93.

Larger insurers also rallied. Everest Re advanced $11.98, or 5.4 percent, to $234.46 and Travelers gained $3.88, or 4.3 percent, to $123.64. So did travel companies, as Royal Caribbean jumped $3.78, or 3.2 percent, to $121.23 and Carnival gained $1.80, or 2.7 percent, to $67.37.

Orange juice prices, which surged in early September, gave up some of their recent gains. Futures had risen to $1.54 a pound Friday from $1.30 at the end of August and slipped to $1.48 a pound on Monday.

NORTH KOREA: North Koreans observed 69th anniversary of the country's founding, but it the country did not test another intercontinental ballistic missile, as South Korea's government had warned it might do. Rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have weighed on stocks in recent weeks and raised the prices of gold and bonds.

Bond prices sank. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.10 from 2.05 percent. The price of gold fell $12.60 to $1,338.60 an ounce.

TECH ADVANCES: Technology companies helped lead the way. Apple, which will unveil its newest iPhone on Tuesday, rose $2.75, or 1.7 percent, to $161.38 and Facebook rose $2.46, or 1.4 percent, to $173.31. Microsoft added 89 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $74.87 and Mastercard rose $2.14, or 2.3 percent, to $140.36.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.77 yen from 107.79 yen late Friday. The euro slid to $1.1983 from $1.12028.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 44 cents to $47.04 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $53.09 a barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX gained 1.2 percent and the French CAC 40 rose 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.2 percent. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan jumped 1.4 percent as the yen came off recent highs against the dollar, easing pressure on exporters. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 27,955.49.

___

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
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