Banks Lead U.S. Stocks Higher in Midday Trading; IBM Surges

(AP) —

stocks, markets, Wall Streets

Financial companies led U.S. stocks higher in midday trading Wednesday, putting the major indexes on track to set new records. Investors were weighing the latest batch of company earnings and deal news. IBM surged on strong quarterly results, lifting technology sector stocks. Energy companies declined as early gains in crude oil prices faded.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,562 as of 12:38 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 149 points, or 0.7 percent, to 23,146, lifted by a big gain in IBM. The Nasdaq composite rose 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,632. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,505. The S&P 500 and Dow set records on Monday and Tuesday.

BETTING ON BANKS: Financial stocks notched some of the biggest gains. Assurant surged $5.72, or 6 percent, to $101.58.

TECH STAR: IBM jumped 9.3 percent after the technology and consulting company delivered strong quarterly results. Its shares were on track for their biggest daily gain since January 2009. They picked up $13.67 to $160.21.

DONE DEAL: Anthem, the second-largest U.S. health insurer, climbed 3.3 percent after announcing that it’s entered a prescription benefits management deal with CVS. Anthem shares gained $6.16 to $193.42. CVS rose $1.66, or 2.3 percent, to $74.29.

BANKING ON IT: Northern Trust shares picked up 5.5 percent after the bank’s earnings and revenue beat Wall Street’s estimates. The bank also said it plans to cut $250 million in annual spending by 2020. The stock added $4.98 to $96.08.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34 percent from 2.30 percent late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Oil prices lost some of their gains from earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 1 cent to $51.87 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 2 cents to $57.97 a barrel in London.

The move weighed on energy stocks. Chevron slid $1.84, or 1.5 percent, to $118.38.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.92 yen from 112.18 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1791 from $1.1772.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European stock markets were moving higher. Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares added 0.4 percent. U.S. stocks were poised for a solid opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed. South Korea’s Kospi lost nearly 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat.

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