Stocks Set Records as Irma and North Korea Worries Fade

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks rallied to record highs Monday as Hurricane Irma weakened without causing as much damage as many had feared, and a North Korean holiday passed without new missile launches. Financial and technology companies lead the way.

Investors were relieved as Irma, which is still deluging Florida and Georgia, didn’t appear to be as bad as it did in projections last week. Insurance companies jumped, especially smaller ones that do a lot of business in Florida. So did travel companies. Home improvement retailers fell. Their stocks had climbed recently as investors expected post-storm repairs to boost their business.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index made its biggest gain since late April as it rose 26.68 points, or 1.1 percent, to finish at a record high of 2,488.11. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 259.58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 22,057.37. The Nasdaq composite jumped 72.07 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,432.26, three points below the record closing high it set Sept. 1. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 15.40 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,414.83.

That wiped out a month of losses linked to international tensions as well as worries about the lingering effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

HCI Group jumped $5.38, or 17.5 percent, to $36.15 while Heritage Insurance gained $2.02, or 21.6 percent, to $11.39. Larger insurers also rallied. Reinsurance company XL Group advanced $1.94, or 5 percent, to $40.55 and Travelers gained $2.80, or 2.3 percent, to $122.56.

Investors also expected that travel-related companies won’t take such a big hit from the storm. Royal Caribbean Cruises jumped $4.24, or 3.6 percent, to $121.69 and American Airlines gained $2.26, or 5.2 percent, to $45.86.

Investors’ sense of relief also pushed orange juice futures a little lower. Futures had risen to $1.54 a pound Friday from $1.30 at the end of August and slipped to $1.51 a pound Monday.

Bond prices sank. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.13 percent from 2.05 percent. Banks rose, as JPMorgan Chase gained $1.37, or 1.5 percent, to $89.79 and Fifth Third Bancorp added 60 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $25.70.

Investors were willing to take more risks, as gold lost $15.50, or 1.1 percent, to $1,335.70 an ounce. Silver fell 22 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $17.90 an ounce.

Technology companies prospered. Apple, which will unveil its newest iPhone on Tuesday, rose $2.30, or 1.4 percent, to $160.93 and Facebook rose $2.35, or 1.4 percent, to $173.30. Microsoft added 66 cents to $74.65 and Mastercard rose $4.36, or 3.2 percent, to $141.58.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 59 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $48.07 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 6 cents to $53.84 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.74 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other commodities trading, copper added 2 cents to $3.07 a pound.

The dollar rose to 109.34 yen from 107.79 yen late Friday. The euro slid to $1.1962 from $1.12028.

Germany’s DAX gained 1.4 percent and the French CAC 40 rose 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.5 percent. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan jumped 1.4 percent as the yen slipped, which eased pressure on exporters.