BUSINESS Tech, health care companies leading US stocks higher


Tech, health care companies leading US stocks higher


06:05, February 24, 2018

Technology and health care companies helped drive U.S. stocks broadly higher Friday as investors pored through the latest batch of company earnings and deal news. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP led the gainers among technology stocks. Energy companies also rose as crude oil prices headed higher. Bond yields receded from the four-year highs they reached earlier this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,725 as of 2:07 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 127 points, or 0.5 percent, to 25,090. The Nasdaq composite gained 69 points, or 1 percent, to 7,279. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,540.

TECH EARNS: Hewlett Packard Enterprise surged $1.73, or 10.5 percent, to $18.14 after it had a strong fiscal first quarter and raised its estimates for the rest of the year. The data center hardware company also said it will increase its quarterly dividend. Its former corporate sibling, printer and PC maker HP, also rose. Its stock gained 99 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $22.38 after its first-quarter earnings and revenue surpassed analyst expectations. Its forecasts for the rest of the year were also better than excepted.

Elsewhere in the technology industry, Microsoft rose $1.53, or 1.7 percent, to $93.27 and Intel added $1.56, or 3.4 percent, to $47.36.

A NEW AISLE: General Mills agreed to buy pet food maker Blue Buffalo in its first foray into pet food. The companies said General Mills will pay $40 a share, or $8 billion. Blue Buffalo climbed $5.76, or 16.9 percent, to $39.88. The company had about $1.3 billion in net sales last year and General Mills said it’s part of the steadily growing market for pet food. The Cheerios maker and many of its competitors have struggled as Americans cut back on purchases of processed foods. On Friday General Mills stock lost $2.23, or 4.1 percent, to $52.72.

IN GOOD HEALTH: Vertex Pharmaceuticals was among the big gainers in the health care sector. The stock climbed $5.61, or 3.6 percent, to $163.20.

BANK ON IT: Banks and other financial firms rose. Investment firm BlackRock gained $5.58, or 1 percent, to $545.11. CME Group, the parent company of the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges, added $2.54, or 1.6 percent, to $163.07.

Royal Bank of Scotland lost 33 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $7.61 after it reported its first annual profit in a decade, but warned that 2018′s earnings could be weighed down by a settlement with U.S. authorities. RBS is still majority-owned by U.K. taxpayers and it has struggled to recover from the deep losses incurred during the financial crisis.

DINING OUT: Craft beer and pizza chain BJ’s Restaurants climbed $4.75, or 12.3 percent, to $43.45 after a strong quarter.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.92 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 72 cents to $63.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 74 cents to $67.13 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 106.63 yen from 106.64 yen. The euro dipped to $1.2295 from $1.2329.

METALS: Gold fell $2.40 to $1,330.30 an ounce. Silver dropped 10 cents to $16.48 an ounce. Copper slid 3 cents to $3.21 a pound.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX index edged 0.2 percent higher and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. London’s FTSE 100 slid 0.1 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1 percent and Seoul’s Kospi rose 1.5 percent.

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