Technology and Health-Care Stocks Lift Indexes to Record Highs


U.S. stocks continued to climb Wednesday, led by technology, health care and energy companies. Media companies also rose as stock indexes set record highs.

The technology part of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index finally broke the record it set in March 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst. Energy companies rose with the price of oil as U.S. energy stockpiles continued to shrink. Cable network companies Scripps Networks and Discovery Communications jumped after The Wall Street Journal reported that they are in talks to combine.

Stocks have been setting records for most of this year, and over the last few months they’ve gotten a boost from a recovery in corporate profits.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 13.22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,473.83. Despite a sharp drop from IBM, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 66.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,640.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 40.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,385.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 14.16 points, or 1 percent, to 1,441.77. All four indexes closed at record highs.

The S&P 500 technology index finally surpassed its peak from late March 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom. That index came close to an all-time high in early June, but after that technology companies went into a swoon that lasted about a month. Their recovery over the last two weeks has helped the Nasdaq composite pull off a rally as well.

Apple picked up 94 cents to $151.02 and Facebook advanced $1.28 to $164.14 while Cisco Systems rose 39 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $31.90.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals climbed after it reported strong results from studies of drug regimens that are intended to help hard-to-treat forms of cystic fibrosis. Vertex soared $27.53, or 20.8 percent, to $159.69. That followed a 2.3 percent gain Tuesday after regulators approved a  cancer treatment the company developed. Vertex’s stock has more than doubled this year and it is trading at all-time highs.

Oil prices rose after the U.S. government said fuel stockpiles shrank last week. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 72 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $47.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, gained 86 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $49.70 per barrel in London. Oil prices have mostly stayed between $40 and $55 a barrel since mid-February of 2016 after they plunged from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014.

Homebuilders jumped after the Commerce Department said construction of new homes rose 8 percent in June, breaking a three-month losing streak. Home construction is up slightly this year, but not enough to make up for a decline in older homes being listed for sale.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Heating oil gained 4 cents to $1.55 a gallon. Natural gas lost 2 cents to $3.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold inched up 10 cents to $1,242 an ounce. Silver rose 3 cents to $16.30 an ounce. Copper lost 2 cents to $2.71 a pound.

Bond prices inched lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.27 percent from 2.26 percent.

The dollar dipped to 111.78 yen from 111.98 yen. The euro fell to $1.1517 from $1.1563.

The CAC 40 of France rose 0.8 percent and the British FTSE 100 jumped 0.6 percent. Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent.

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