U.S. Stocks Jump After Report Of Stronger Consumer Spending

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks rose again Thursday as investors were pleased with a report that showed spending by U.S. consumers grew in July, along with wages and salaries. Health care and technology companies led the way and the Nasdaq composite closed at a record high.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending grew at its fastest pace in three months. Companies that sell everything from cosmetics to toys to shoes advanced as investors bet Americans would shop more. Biotech drug companies, drug distributors, and scientific equipment companies made some of the biggest gains in health care. Technology companies advanced for the fourth day in a row and closed at record highs. Gasoline futures continued to spike as Tropical Storm Harvey left large parts of oil drilling and refining and pipelines out of commission.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 14.06 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,471.65, its highest close in three weeks. That allowed the index to finish August with a tiny gain. The Dow Jones industrial average added 55.67 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,948.10. The Nasdaq composite gained 60.35 points, or 1 percent, to 6,428.66, above the record high it set in late July. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 13.95 points, or 1 percent, to 1,405.28.

Drugmaker Biogen gained $12.83, or 4.2 percent, to a two-year high of $316.58 and Gilead Sciences rose to its highest price in more than a year as it moved up $2.51, or 3.1 percent, to $83.74.

Technology companies, which are trading at record highs, rose for the fourth day in a row. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, gained $11.61, or 1.2 percent, to $955.24 and Microsoft picked up 76 cents, or 1 percent, to $74.77.

Among retailers, Amazon gained $13.01, or 1.3 percent, to $980.60. Jewelry seller Tiffany added $3.75, or 4.3 percent, to $91.40. Tool maker Stanley Black & Decker picked up $4.22, or 3 percent, to $144.

After three days of losses linked to Tropical Storm Harvey, benchmark U.S. crude jumped $1.27, or 2.8 percent, to $47.23 a barrel in New York as the rains hitting the Gulf Coast began to abate. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $1.52, or 3 percent, to $52.38 a barrel in London.

Already at two-year highs, wholesale gasoline prices climbed at an even faster pace as some refining operations and pipelines around the Gulf Coast region remained offline. The price of wholesale gasoline surged 26 cents, or 13.5 percent, to $2.14 a gallon.

Heating oil rose 8 cents, or 5 percent, to $1.76 a gallon and natural gas gained 10 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $3.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Discount retailer Dollar General reported a bigger profit and better sales than Wall Street expected, but it said discounts hurt its profit margins. The stock had rallied since early July, but on Thursday it lost $4.17, or 5.4 percent, to $72.56.

Bond prices moved higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.12 percent from 2.13 percent.

Gold rose $8.10 to $1,322.20 an ounce. Silver gained 7 cents to $17.58 an ounce. Copper added 1 cent to $3.10 a pound.

The dollar dipped to 109.98 yen from 110.36 yen. The euro rose to $1.1903 from $1.1890.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent. The British FTSE 100 advanced 0.9 percent. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent and Seoul’s Kospi lost 0.4 percent.