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After slow start, banks and retailers lead stocks higher

By The Associated Press
Posted 3:37PM on Tuesday 13th February 2018 ( 1 week ago )

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are drifting higher Tuesday as gains for banks, retailers and technology companies put the market on track for its third up day in a row. Retailers are rising following strong fourth-quarter results from Under Armour and more gains for Amazon. The rebound over the last few days follows a harrowing drop of more than 10 percent over the previous two weeks.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 9 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,664 as of 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,656. The Nasdaq composite gained 35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,017. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 3 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,494.

Stocks have been making big swerves higher and lower recently, but so far, this is the calmest day on the stock market in almost two weeks. Last week the Dow twice fell 1,000 points in a day, sometimes gaining or losing hundreds of points in a few minutes. So far on Tuesday, the gap between its highest and lowest mark is just 284 points.

On Wednesday the Labor Department will issue its monthly report on consumer prices. That might be important to investors because in the last two weeks they have started to worry that inflation might be increasing.

ON THE REBOUND: Under Armour climbed after it reported better-than-expected sales as shoe and accessory revenue picked up. The stock had plunged 50 percent in 2017 on top of a 30 percent decline in 2016. It rose $2.44, or 17.2 percent, to $16.67. Athletic apparel retailer Foot Locker also gained ground.

Amazon climbed $28.77, or 2.1 percent, to $1,415, and dollar stores, department stores and clothing companies made gains as well.

THE QUOTE: Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Investment Management, said investors who have steered clear of the stock market started to pile in over the last few months.

"The pattern that we saw over the last month and a half is not by any stretch of the imagination unusual," he said, "But it is compressed. It normally doesn't happen over a six-week period."

Hackett said he feels stocks have fallen to more reasonable prices, partly because of the market slump and partly because corporate earnings grew at a strong clip in the fourth quarter.

HEALTH SCARE: Prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen jumped $8.26, or 9.2 percent, to $97.71 after The Wall Street Journal reported that Walgreens Boots Alliance wants to buy the rest of the company. It already owns a 26 percent stake in AmerisourceBergen, which is one of the largest prescription drug distributors in the U.S. and also distributes products to hospitals and other health systems. The Wall Street Journal said Walgreens reached out several weeks ago about a deal but that no offer has been made. Walgreens lost 3 cents to $68.43.

Separately, the Journal reported that Amazon is looking to win over hospitals and clinics to distribute a variety of medical items. Two other distributors of prescription drugs also fell, as Cardinal Health lost $2.23, or 3.3 percent, to $65.80 and McKesson fell $2.52, or 1.7 percent, to $146.51.

In January Amazon announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at reducing health care costs. It's widely believed to have designs on a larger role in the health care system.

CHIPPED TOOTH: The Federal Trade Commission said it is suing three large dental product suppliers for conspiring to deny discounts to groups that buy products for small practices. It said their actions violated antitrust law, and that Henry Schein, Patterson, and privately-held Benco control 85 percent of the $10 billion market for products like gloves, sterilization products, lights and dentists' chairs.

Henry Schein rejected the allegations and said it will defend itself in court. Its stock fell $4.83, or 6.7 percent, to $67.36 and Patterson sank $1.61, or 4.9 percent, to $31.31.

PUMP IT UP: Nutrition supplement company GNC Holdings soared 19 percent after it formed a joint venture with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group of China. Harbin is investing $300 million in GNC, which will make it the company's largest shareholder. The stock rose 80 cents to $5.

OIL: Energy companies declined, and benchmark U.S. crude fell 10 cents to $59.19 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 13 cents to $62.72 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline add 1 cent to $1.69 a gallon. Heating oil stayed at $1.84 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.59 per 1,000 cubic feet.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.84 percent from 2.86 percent.

METALS: Gold rose $4 to $1,330.40 an ounce. Silver slipped 4 cents to $16.53 an ounce. Copper climbed 8 cents to $3.16 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.69 yen from 108.67 yen. The euro rose to $1.2355 from $1.2284.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX shed 0.7 percent and the CAC 40 of France fell 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 1.4 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1 percent.

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

FILE - This Oct. 4, 2014, file photo, shows the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. Health care companies are leading stocks broadly lower in early trading Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, on Wall Street as the market gives back some of its big gain from the day before. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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