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Wednesday July 18th, 2018 9:49PM

Tech, health care stocks are big gainers as US indexes rally

By The Associated Press
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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 shipping 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 10-year 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.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
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