Stocks Jump as Relieved Investors Buy Banks, Insurers, Tech

stocks, markets, wall street
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange pause for a moment of silence on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are jumping Monday, following global markets higher, after Hurricane Irma weakened without causing as much damage as many had feared. Travel companies and insurers are also rising and home-improvement companies like Lowe’s and Home Depot, which rallied last week, fell.

Bond prices fell, sending yields higher. There was also relief among investors that a national holiday passed in North Korea without that country escalating tensions with the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 20 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,482 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. That put the index on track for a record high. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 221 points, or 1 percent, to 22,018. The Nasdaq composite jumped 57 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,417. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 13 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,412.

STORMY WEATHER: Irma hit the U.S. as a major Category 4 hurricane Sunday and is still battering Florida and Georgia. It’s caused severe flooding and knocked out power to millions, but the storm weakened shortly before it came ashore. Small insurers, especially ones that do a lot of business in Florida, climbed. HCI Group jumped $5.18, or 16.8 percent, to $35.95 while Heritage Insurance gained $1.95, or 20.8 percent, to $11.32.

Larger insurers also rallied. XL Group advanced $1.95, or 5.1 percent, to $40.56 and Travelers gained $3.64, or 3 percent, to $123.41. Travel-related companies rose as investors felt their businesses won’t take such a big hit. Royal Caribbean Cruises jumped $3.88, or 3.3 percent, to $121.33 and American Airlines gained $1.27, or 2.9 percent, to $44.87. Travel site Priceline rose $19.28, or 1 percent, to $1,857.85.

LAGGARDS: Home improvement retailers are falling. They climbed last week after investors anticipated their business could pick up as homeowners were affected by the storm. Home Depot dropped $2.51, or 1.6 percent, to $157.15 and Lowe’s declined $1.45, or 1.9 percent, to $77.11.

Orange juice prices, which surged in early September, gave up some of their recent gains. Futures had risen to $1.54 a pound Friday from $1.30 at the end of August and slipped to $1.52 a pound on Monday.

NORTH KOREA: North Koreans observed the 69th anniversary of the country’s founding, but the country did not test another intercontinental ballistic missile, as South Korea’s government had warned it might do. Rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have weighed on stocks in recent weeks and raised the prices of gold and bonds.

Bond prices sank. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.11 from 2.05 percent. The price of gold fell $11.80 to $1,339.40 an ounce. High-dividend stocks like phone and utility companies didn’t do as well as the rest of the market. Those companies tend to do better when bond yields are falling, as investors see them as an alternative to bonds because of their large dividend payments.

TECH ADVANCES: Technology companies helped lead the way. Apple, which will unveil its newest iPhone on Tuesday, rose $2.36, or 1.5 percent, to $160.99 and Facebook rose $1.86, or 1.1 percent, to $172.81. Microsoft gained 63 cents to $74.61 and Mastercard rose $2.73, or 2 percent, to $139.95.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.84 yen from 107.79 yen late Friday. The euro slid to $1.1984 from $1.12028.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 19 cents to $47.67 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 22 cents to $53.56 a barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX gained 1.3 percent and the French CAC 40 rose 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.4 percent. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan jumped 1.4 percent as the yen came off recent highs against the dollar, easing pressure on exporters. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1 percent.

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