U.S. Stocks Post Gains as Investors Seek Safe Picks

NEW YORK (AP) -
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

U.S. stocks are rising Monday afternoon. After a market nosedive on Friday, investors are putting money into safe-play investments like household goods makers and phone companies. Technology companies are also higher. Stock indexes overseas are slipping as investors worry about the possibility of an imminent U.S. interest rate hike.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,150 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,138. The Nasdaq composite jumped 39 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,164.

SANCTUARY: Investors bought investments that they see as low-risk, including household goods companies. Retail giant Wal-Mart rose 84 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $71.14 and toothpaste maker Colgate-Palmolive gained 89 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $71.75. Phone companies also rose and AT&T gained 53 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $40.24.

FED FEARS: U.S. stocks plunged about 2.5 percent Friday, their biggest loss in two months, after Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said there’s a case to be made the U.S. central bank should raise rates sooner rather than later. The Fed could raise interest rates next week, but investors aren’t sure the economy is healthy enough to handle it. The losses Friday wiped out two months of gradual gains on the market.

Rosengren’s comments drew so much attention because he is considered a “dove” who has been reluctant to raise rates too quickly. Another dove, Fed board member Lael Brainard, is scheduled to give a speech Monday, raising speculation that she, too, “will use this appearance to signal a September rate hike,” economists Kevin Cummins and Michelle Girard of the Royal Bank of Scotland, wrote in a research note Monday. Higher rates threaten stocks by making interest-paying savings accounts and bonds more attractive to investors. They could also ding corporate earnings by raising companies’ borrowing costs.

FERTILE SOIL: Canadian companies Agrium and Potash Corp. of Saskachewan agreed to combine into the world’s largest crop nutrient company. The companies value their combined business at $36 billion, and they expect the deal to close in the middle of next year. Potash shareholders will own a majority of stock in the new company. Potash stock lost 22 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $16.75 and Agruim dipped $2.57, or 2.7 percent, to $92.64.

CTRL+ALT+P: HP stock edged higher after the company agreed to buy Samsung’s printer business for $1.05 billion. That division has more than 6,500 printing patents. HP rose 30 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $14.25. That helped take technology stocks higher. Elsewhere, Apple rose $1.34, or 1.3 percent, to $104.47 and Broadcom picked up $3.18, or 2 percent, to $163.93.

PERRI-GOING UP: Irish drug and ingredient maker Perrigo added $4.87, or 5.5 percent, to $93.58 after the activist investment firm Starboard Value bought a 4.6-percent stake in the company. Starboard Value said Perrigo needs to make changes to its business, including boosting profit margins for some of divisions, and notes that the company’s stock hasn’t done well since Perrigo rejected an offer from Mylan NV. Perrigo said it will review Starboard’s comments.

OIL: U.S. crude rose 17 cents to $46.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil trading, climbed 11 cents to $48.12 a barrel in London.

Energy Transfer Pipeline fell $1.63, or 4.2 percent, to $37.51. On Friday a federal judge ruled that the company can build a $3.8 billion pipeline that is intended to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. But the federal government temporarily stopped the project and several agencies said they will reconsider some of their decisions. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe wants to stop construction of the pipeline, which comes within a mile of a reservation in southern North Dakota.

RAPTOR ROARS: Rare disease drugmaker Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp. climbed $1.50, or 20.1 percent, to $8.95 after Horizon Pharma said it will buy the company $9 per share, or about $768 million. Horizon added $1.20, or 7 percent, to $18.46.

TEXT ME BACK: Software company Open Text climbed $5.07, or 8.5 percent, to $64.84 after it said it will buy a unit of Dell EMC for $1.62 billion.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX was down 1.3 percent while the CAC-40 in France also fell 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gave up 1.1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 1.7 percent and South Korea’s Kospi slid 2.3 percent. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng shed 3.4 percent.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices didn’t move much, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained 1.68 percent. The dollar fell to 101.98 yen from 102.69 yen late Friday. The euro edged up to $1.1231 from $1.1228.