US stock indices move higher in morning trading, oil rises
Technology and health-care companies helped lift US stocks higher in morning trading on Tuesday, nudging the Dow Jones industrial average closer to crossing the 20,000-point mark. Utilities and real estate stocks headed lower. Oil prices were moving higher. A key gauge of housing values showed that US home prices increased again in October.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 33 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 19,967 as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 8 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,272. The Nasdaq composite index rose 39 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,502.
Oil and gas drilling and services companies were trading higher. Transocean gained 45 cents, or 3.1 per cent, to US$15.18, while Helmerich & Payne added US$2.23, or 2.9 per cent, to US$80.62. National Oilwell Varco rose 63 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to US$39.01.
Several retailers were also moving higher. Amazon added US$10.65, or 1.4 per cent, to US$771.24. Bed Bath & Beyond gained 48 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to US$41.25, while Tiffany & Co. rose 98 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to US$78.11.
Shares in Fitbit climbed 4 per cent after the fitness tracker company's app became the second-most downloaded in the iTunes store. The stock added 29 cents to US$7.59.
Biogen rose 2.3 per cent on news that the Federal Drug Administration approved the company's treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disorder. The FDA approved the drug, Spinraza, late Friday. The stock added US$6.59 to US$294.12.
Endologix plunged 20.6 per cent after the drugmaker said that the FDA has ordered it to cease shipping a device used to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms because of manufacturing problems. The company said the problem only affects some sizes of its AFX Endovascular AAA system and that no clinical problems have been reported. Endologix shares lost US$1.48 to US$5.71.
An index of US home prices increased in October, as buyers bidding for scarce properties drove home prices higher. The Standard & Poor's CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.1 per cent in October from a year earlier after climbing 5 per cent in September. The broader Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6 per cent in October and has fully recovered from the financial crisis.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 0.2 per cent, while the CAC 40 of France was 0.2 per cent higher. Markets in Britain are closed for Boxing Day. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was nearly flat. The Kospi of South Korea rose 0.2 per cent, while India's Sensex added 0.8 per cent. Markets in Hong Kong and Australia were also closed.
Benchmark US crude was up 63 cents, or 1.2 per cent, at US$53.66 a barrel in New York. Oil markets were closed Monday for the holiday. On Friday, benchmark US crude gained 7 cents. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 63 cents, or 1.1 per cent, at US$55.79 a barrel in London.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year treasury note rose to 2.57 per cent from 2.54 per cent late Friday. Markets were closed Monday for the holiday. In currency trading, the US dollar rose to 117.59 yen from 117.26. The euro fell to US$1.0457 from US$1.0452.