Stocks Move Higher, Led by Banks and Technology Companies

NEW YORK (AP) -
Trader Sean Spain, CENTER, and specialist John Alatzas, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Sean Spain, CENTER, and specialist John Alatzas, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are slightly higher Wednesday afternoon, as banks and technology companies rise. Cruise line companies are jumping after Carnival posted strong first-quarter results. The market is building on a rally that started the day before and has reached a high mark for the year.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,725 as of 2:11 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,065. The Nasdaq composite index added 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to reach 4,872.

FINANCIALS FLY: Banks and insurance companies made the biggest gains. MetLife gained $2.12, or 5 percent, to $44.58 after the company said it successfully challenged its “too big to fail” designation. The Financial Stability Oversight Council had said MetLife needed greater government oversight because of its size and importance to the financial system, but the company took the council to court over that ruling. On Wednesday the company said a judge ruled in its favor.

Fellow insurer AIG advanced $1.03, or 1.8 percent, to $54.42. Wells Fargo rose 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $48.75 and JPMorgan Chase picked up 70 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $59.73.

SMOOTH SAILING: Cruise line operator Carnival got a boost after its first-quarter results were better than analysts expected, and the company raised its profit projections for the year. The stock gained $1.66, or 3.3 percent, to $51.30 and competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises added $2.96, or 3.9 percent, to reach $79.01.

STOCKS SLOWING: Stocks jumped at the start of trading Wednesday, continuing a surge from the previous afternoon. Early on, the Dow rose more than 150 points. They have returned most of those gains, but still, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each up about 7 percent this month. That puts them on pace for their largest monthly gain since October.

WORKING ON THE RAILROAD: Norfolk Southern jumped $2.20, or 2.7 percent, to $85 after it said it is open to a possible sale to Canadian Pacific, but only if Canadian Pacific offers a better price and regulators approve the structure of the deal. Norfolk Southern has rejected three offers from Canadian Pacific worth about $30 billion.

HIRING: U.S. companies added 200,000 jobs in March, according to a survey of private employers by ADP, a payroll processing company. The survey showed companies in construction, retail and shipping continued to bring on new workers, and it suggests hiring continues in the U.S. The federal government will release its monthly jobs report Friday.

ACADIA ADVANCES: Acadia Pharmaceuticals rose after a Food and Drug Administration panel made a positive recommendation for Acadia’s drug Nuplazid, which is intended to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that harm patients with Parkinson’s disease. The stock climbed $2.11, or 8.9 percent, to $25.92.

STRETCHING HIGHER: Canadian yoga-wear company Lululemon gained 6.07, or 9.9 percent, to $67.31 after it disclosed strong fourth-quarter sales.

BILLS PILE UP: Payroll processor Paychex lost $1.34, or 2.5 percent, to reach $53.15 as investors were unimpressed with its fiscal third-quarter results. The stock has climbed over the last two months and is near all-time highs.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 4 cents to $38.24 a barrel in New York after a federal agency said oil stockpiles kept growing last week. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 16 cents to reach $40.01 a barrel in London.

FED TALK: Stocks rose to their highest prices of 2016 Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank expects to proceed slowly in raising interest rates. That’s because the stock market has been volatile and the economy has weakened somewhat over the last few months. Slower worldwide economic growth and weaker oil prices and profits could also hinder the U.S. economy.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices slipped, returning some of Tuesday’s gains. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.83 percent from 1.80 percent. The dollar continued to weaken. The euro rose to $1.1324 from $1.1295 and the dollar fell to 112.49 yen from 112.75 yen.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC-40 climbed 1.8 percent, while Germany’s DAX and the FTSE 100 in Britain each rose 1.6 percent. Asian stocks were mixed after the Asian Development Bank said economies in the region will grow at a slower pace in 2016 and 2017 because of reduced growth in China and a weak recovery in other major industrial economies. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.3 percent as the yen continued to strengthen. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 2.1 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.4 percent.

METALS: Gold fell $8.90 to $1,226.90 an ounce. Silver slipped two cents to $15.21 an ounce, while copper fell two cents to $2.19 a pound.