U.S. Stocks Inch Higher as Investors Watch Britain and Yellen


U.S. stocks are making small gains Tuesday afternoon as investors trade cautiously while waiting for British voters to decide the fate of that nation’s membership in the European Union. Phone and energy companies are rising and drug companies are falling. Stocks posted big gains a day earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,846 as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,090. The Nasdaq composite added 2 points to 4,839.

ALL EYES ON BRITAIN: Opinion polls and betting markets indicate that Britons are more likely to vote to remain in the European Union in a referendum Thursday. Uncertainty about the outcome has weighed on global markets, and polls suggest the result will be close.

YELLEN TESTIMONY: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spoke to the Senate Tuesday and said the U.S. economy faces a number of uncertainties that require the Fed to proceed cautiously in raising interest rates. Yellen said the Fed will watch carefully to see if the recent slowdown in job growth is temporary or a sign of a bigger problem. The Fed left interest rates unchanged in June and will meet again in late July.

CHECK YOUR MESSAGES: AT&T added 45 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $41.24 and Verizon gained 55 cents, or 1 percent, to $54.31 as phone companies made larger gains than any other sector of the market.

FEELING ILL: Drugmaker Endo International lost 82 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $15.25. It’s fallen 46 percent this month, in part because of regulatory delays for a new version of its painkiller Opana ER. Also trading lower were cancer drug maker Celgene and cystic fibrosis drug maker Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Celgene gave up $2.78, or 2.8 percent, to $96.51 and Vertex shed $2.52, or 2.9 percent, to $84.20.

SCIENCE DEAL: American Science & Engineering, which makes X-ray inspection systems, agreed to be acquired by airport security and full-body scanner manufacturer OSI Systems Inc. OSI will pay $37 per share, or $263.9 million. American Science & Engineering’s stock jumped $4.46, or 13.8 percent, to $36.80.

WERNER WARNING: Transportation and logistics company Werner Enterprises forecast disappointing second-quarter results. It said sluggish freight market conditions are hurting rates, as are the costs associated with an increase in pay for drivers. The stock lost $2.44, or 9.9 percent, to $22.24. Truck leasing company Ryder System lost $1.35, or 2 percent, to $64.98.

TAP THE BRAKES: Used-car dealership CarMax disclosed disappointing first-quarter results as its costs increased and sales fell short of Wall Street estimates. Its stock gave up $1.91, or 3.8 percent, to $48.72. Auto retailer AutoNation fell $1.50, or 3 percent, to $47.86 and auto supplier BorgWarner skidded $1.33, or 3.8 percent, to $33.40.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 54 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.83 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 32 cents to $50.33 a barrel in London. The price of oil rose about 7 percent over the last two days.

IMPAX SLACKENS: Generic drug maker Impax Laboratories tumbled after it agreed to pay $586 million for a group of generic drugs owned by Allergan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Those companies had to sell the products because Allergan is buying Teva’s generic drugs business. Impax lost $4.09, or 12.8 percent, to $27.88.

IMPERVIOUS: Data security software company Imperva climbed $4.76, or 11.8 percent, to $45.20 after Elliott Capital, the firm run by activist investor Paul Singer, disclosed a stake.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.6 percent, also adding to large gains on Monday. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 percent while Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.1 percent.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices stabilized after Monday’s skid. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note remained at 1.69 percent. The dollar rose to 104.73 yen from 103.96 yen. The euro fell to $1.1164 from $1.1314. The British pound edged back to $1.4685 from $1.4693 after a big jump Monday.

METALS: The price of gold dropped $19.60, or 1.5 percent, to $1,272.50 an ounce and silver fell 20 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $17.32 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.12 a pound.