US stocks climb, led by health care companies and banks

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are on track for more records Monday as health care companies and banks lead the market higher. Energy companies are plunging as the prices of crude oil and other fuels fall sharply. Nordstrom is tumbling after the New York Post said talks to take the department store company private were stalling. Spain’s main stock index is dropping after reports of widespread violence and unrest as after Catalonians voted on an independence referendum.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,526 as of 1:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 123 points, or 0.6 percent, to 22,528. The Nasdaq composite gained 9 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,505. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,502. The S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell closed at record highs Friday, while the Dow is trading above its record high close set on Sept. 20.

OIL SLICK: Oil prices dropped after oilfield services company Baker Hughes said last Friday that more drilling rigs went into operation last week after two weeks of declines, and Reuters reported that output of OPEC nations grew in September. Both of those reports suggest that oil supplies are rising, which sends prices lower.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.22, or 2.4 percent, to $50.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, shed 90 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $55.89 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline, heating oil and natural gas prices also sank.

Schlumberger declined 85 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $68.91 and Halliburton shed 58 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $68.91. Exxon Mobil gave up 29 cents to $81.69.

LEADERS: Health insurer UnitedHealth picked up $2, or 1 percent, to $197.85 and genetic testing equipment company Illumina gained $2.49, or 1.3 percent, to $201.69. Botox maker Allergan climbed $5.66, or 2.8 percent, to $210.61.

Banks and financial companies also rose. JPMorgan Chase added $1.08, or 1.1 percent, to $96.59 and lender Capital One Financial advanced $1.29, or 1.5 percent, to $85.95.

NORDSTROM WOES: Nordstrom slumped following a report that talks to sell the company to a group of investors including the Nordstrom family could fall apart. The New York Post reported that the would-be buyers are having trouble getting enough financing to complete the sale, and that the recent bankruptcy of retailer Toys R Us was making that process harder.

Nordstrom rallied in…

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