Market Nears 5th Week of Gains as Health Stocks Bounce Back

Trader Timothy Nick, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Timothy Nick, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are rising in Friday afternoon trading, putting them on track to extend a winning streak that has erased most of this year’s early losses. Health-care stocks are recovering after a punishing week. Starwood Hotels and Columbia Pipeline Group are climbing after they each agreed to be acquired.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,584 as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,049. After weeks of gains, the Dow and S&P 500 are both up slightly for the year. The Nasdaq composite edged up 24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,798.

PIPELINE FLOWING: Columbia Pipeline Group climbed after TransCanada Corp. agreed to buy the company for $10 billion, or $25.50 per share, in an attempt to expand further into the U.S. Columbia Pipeline stock advanced $1.36, or 5.8 percent, to $24.87.

ACROBATIC: Adobe Systems – the software developer behind Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat – reported better-than-expected results for the fiscal first quarter and raised its annual forecasts. The stock jumped $4.36, or 4.8 percent, to $94.32.

HEALTH CARE RECOVERY: Health-care stocks regained some ground after a rough week. Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare rose $1.91, or 7.2 percent, to $28.48, and prescription-drug distributor McKesson gained $5.83, or 3.8 percent, to $157.52. Drug companies also ticked upward after days of losses, including Biogen, which rose $3.71, or 1.5 percent, to $250.02. Health care is the worst-performing S&P 500 sector this year.

TAKE IT TO THE BANK: JPMorgan Chase said it will buy back another $1.88 billion in stock, while Bank of America announced an $800 million stock repurchase. Chase stock rose $1.37, or 2.3 percent, to $60.12, and Bank of America shares picked up 36 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $13.76.

The stocks are also getting a boost from the recovery in oil prices. As energy prices tumbled, investors worried that some bank loans to energy companies wouldn’t get paid back. Investment bank Goldman Sachs added $4.03, or 2.6 percent, to $156.94.

NEW RESERVATION: Starwood Hotels climbed $3.61, or 4.7 percent, to $80 after the hotel chain said it accepted a new buyout offer from a group led by Anbang Insurance Group of China. The bid is worth more than $14 billion. Competitor Marriott, which agreed to buy Starwood last year, said it is considering its options and noted it has the right to make another offer.

Marriott stock rose $1.61, or 2.2 percent, to $73.41.

OIL: Oil prices wavered, with U.S. crude down three cents to $40.17 a barrel in New York. U.S. crude closed over $40 per barrel Thursday for the first time since early December. The international standard, Brent crude, added 20 cents to $41.74 a barrel in London.

RALLY CAPS: The five-week climb has wiped out most of the market’s big losses from earlier in the year. The Dow and the S&P have both jumped about 12 percent since they hit annual lows Feb. 11. The price of U.S. crude is up more than 50 percent since then, as investors have hoped production will slow down and demand won’t collapse. Energy and materials stocks have both climbed over the last month as oil and precious metals prices rose, while industrial, consumer and technology stocks have benefited from a more positive economic picture in the U.S.

DOLLAR DIVES: The dollar, which has strengthened dramatically over the last few years in part on expectations that interest rates would rise in the U.S., has weakened since Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve said it expected the pace of interest-rate increases to slow.

That makes goods priced in U.S. dollars more affordable overseas, and is good news for industrial companies with a large international presence. Those stocks continued to rise Friday, with aircraft makers Boeing up $2.61, or 2 percent, to $133.31, and Textron up $1.04, or 3 percent, to $36.01. Airlines also benefited, as the dollar has hurt their revenue overseas when it’s translated back into dollars. Delta Airlines advanced $1.33, or 2.7 percent, to $49.95, and American Airlines rose $1.07, or 2.5 percent, to $43.17.

OVERSEAS: Stocks overseas were mixed. Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 added 3.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China rose 1.7 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond have also been rising in the wake of the Fed’s announcement, and on Friday the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note dipped to 1.88 percent from 1.90 percent. The euro fell to $1.1289 from $1.1316. The dollar slipped to 111.42 yen after closing at 111.50 yen Thursday.

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