Gains for Banks and Tech Companies Push U.S. Stocks Higher

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(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

U.S. stocks are rising as technology companies rise for the third day in a row and banks move higher along with bond yields and interest rates. Energy companies continue to fall as investors sort through the ongoing damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey. The Commerce Department raised its estimate for economic growth and said the U.S. gross domestic product grew at its fastest pace in two years between April and June.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,455 as of 1 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,883. The Nasdaq composite gained 53 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,354 as technology companies rose for the third day in a row. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 6 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,390.

EARNINGS: Chipmaker Analog Devices advanced after it announced strong results in the third quarter along with a better-than-expected revenue forecast for the current period. Its stock jumped $2.74, or 3.4 percent, to $82.29. Other technology companies also rose, with Microsoft up 63 cents to $73.6.

Drone maker AeroVironment climbed $6.68, or 17 percent, to $46.03 after the company said product sales almost doubled in the fiscal first quarter. Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and other drinks, raised its profit forecast and posted strong first-quarter results. The shares rose $1.43, or 2.8 percent, to $52.63.

H&R Block lost $2.22, or 7.6 percent, to $27.01 after it said it isn’t planning any major cost cuts in its new fiscal year, unlike the year before.

BONDS: Investors’ concerns about tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to ease, and bond prices inched lower after a big jump the day before. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.14 percent from 2.13 percent. That moved interest rates higher, and banks climbed as well.

The price of gold fell $4.20, or 0.3 percent, to $1,314.70 an ounce.

STORM DAMAGE: Energy companies continued to fall as the Gulf region was inundated with rain by Harvey, which has knocked out significant oil drilling and refining capacity. On Tuesday, the largest oil refinery in the U.S. was shut down and the operator of a major pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast said it was running at a reduced rate.

The tropical storm has dumped a record amount of rain on the Gulf Coast. It made landfall again in Louisiana overnight. Authorities say at least 20 people have died in the storm and 13,000 have been rescued.

Anadarko Petroleum retreated 23 cents to $40.48 and Marathon Oil lost 5 cents to $10.83.

After the Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil stockpiles shrank last week, benchmark U.S. crude edged up 5 cents to $46.49 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, the international standard, fell 46 cents to $51.20 a barrel in London. The price of wholesale gasoline rose another 3 cents.

CANCER TREATMENTS: The Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment that genetically engineers patients’ own blood cells to seek and destroy childhood leukemia. The drug, Kymriah, is made by Novartis, and several other companies are working on similar treatments. They are called CAR-T therapies, and they are being developed for blood cancers and maybe other tumors, too.

The approval wasn’t a surprise to investors, and Novartis stock dipped 84 cents, or 1 percent, to $82.78. Gilead Sciences rallied, however. Earlier this week the company agreed to buy CAR-T drug developer Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion. Its stock gained $3.92, or 5.2 percent, to $79.66. Juno Therapeutics, which is studying a similar treatment, lost $2.26, or 5.2 percent, to $41.55.

ECONOMY AND HIRING: The U.S. economy grew 3 percent in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department. That’s the fastest pace in two years. The agency raised its projection from last month, when it estimated that gross domestic product rose 2.6 percent.

Meanwhile U.S. businesses added 237,000 jobs in August with broad gains across several industries including construction, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality, according to a survey of private businesses by ADP. The government will make its own report on hiring Friday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.30 yen from 109.71 yen. The euro declined to $1.1903 from $1.1992.

OVERSEAS: European stocks bounced back after several days of losses. Germany’s DAX and the French CAC 40 both rose 0.5 percent and FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.4 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent.

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