US Stocks Rise as Drugmakers Gain; Gold Keeps Climbing

NEW YORK (AP) -
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U.S. stocks changed course and turned higher Wednesday, with drug and consumer companies leading the way. Investors were willing to take a few more risks than the day before, but they remained cautious, and demand for bonds and precious metals stayed high.

Stocks opened lower, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 127 points early on. Indexes started moving higher at noon, and finished at their highest levels of the day. Phone companies, traditionally safe investments, fell after some recent gains. Bond prices were little changed after Tuesday’s surge, which pulled the yields on long-term U.S. bonds to their lowest levels ever recorded.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,918.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 11.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,099.73. The Nasdaq composite gained 36.26 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,859.16.

Drugmakers AbbVie and Biogen led health-care stocks higher after regulators in the European Union approved their drug Zinbryta, a treatment for multiple sclerosis that can be taken just once a month. AbbVie rose $1.45, or 2.3 percent, to $63.37, and Biogen gained $5.45, or 2.3 percent, to $247.48.

Bond prices inched higher and yields fell as investors sought safety following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.37 percent from 1.38 percent, and the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell to 2.14 percent from 2.15 percent. According to Tradeweb, both yields set all-time lows early Wednesday, reaching 1.32 percent and 2.10 percent, respectively.

Bond yields have tumbled over the last few months following a weak U.S. jobs report and then the unexpected result of the British referendum to leave the European Union.

The price of gold rose $8.40 to $1,367.10 an ounce, and silver surged 30 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $20.20 an ounce. Gold is trading at its highest price since March 2014, while silver is at its highest price since August of that year. Newmont Mining gained $1.04, or 2.6 percent, to $41.42, and Harmony Gold rose 22 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $4.32.

Copper, meanwhile, fell 3 cents to $2.15 a pound.

Oil prices, which fell earlier in the day, also reversed course. Benchmark U.S. crude closed up 83 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $47.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 84 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $48.80 a barrel in London.

Gas prices lagged after the U.S. government said stockpiles of gasoline jumped last week. That was a surprise to analysts, as S&P Global Platts says they expected gasoline stockpiles to fall by 900,000 barrels.

The price of wholesale gasoline remained at $1.43 a gallon, and companies that refine oil into gas stumbled. Marathon Petroleum fell $2.28, or 5.9 percent, to $36.50, and Valero Energy fell $1.18, or 2.4 percent, to $48.66. Phillips 66 slumped $1.56, or 2 percent, to $76.37.

In other energy trading, heating oil gained 3 cents to $1.47 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.79 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The British pound continued to weaken. It’s at its lowest in more than 30 years, and on Wednesday fell to $1.2922 from $1.3032. The dollar slipped to 101.40 yen from 101.55 yen on Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1105 from $1.1075.

France’s CAC lost 1.9 percent and Germany’s DAX shed 1.7 percent, while Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.2 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi each skidded 1.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slid 1.2 percent.