U.S. Stock Indexes Edge Higher in Afternoon Trading; Oil Slips

(AP) -
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

U.S. stock indexes edged higher in light trading Wednesday afternoon, recouping some of their modest losses from a day earlier. Health-care and technology stocks were among the biggest gainers. Homebuilders notched gains following a report showing pending U.S. home sales edged up last month. Energy stocks declined the most following a drop in crude oil prices.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,681 as of 12:51 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,767. The Nasdaq increased 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,941. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,547.

THE QUOTE: “Trading is obviously very light, but the market is certainly going out on a high as we head into the end of the year,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

A HEALTHY TURN: Several health sector stocks notched gains. Align Technology picked up $5.02, or 2.2 percent, to $228.56.

TECH GAINS: Technology stocks were posting solid gains. Qorvo led the pack, rising $1.17, or 1.8 percent, to $67.07.

HOME SWEET HOME: The National Association of Realtors said signed contracts to buy U.S. homes increased 0.2 percent in November. Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. Homebuilder shares were broadly higher after the report, led by LGI Homes. The stock gained $2.31, or 3.2 percent, to $75.30.

ENERGY SLUMP: Declining crude oil prices weighed on oil producers and other energy companies. Devon Energy fell 78 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $41.80.

TAKING A SWING: Callaway Golf tumbled 5.5 percent after the company said it invested another $20 million in entertainment company Topgolf, giving it a 14-percent stake. Callaway fell 83 cents to $14.23.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 43 cents to $59.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, slipped 59 cents to $65.87 per barrel in London.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.43 percent from 2.48 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.29 yen from 113.18 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1899 from $1.1867.

THE BITCOIN TRADE: The price of bitcoin fell 5.8 percent to $14,890 as of 12:47 p.m. ET, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange slid 3.4 percent to $15,280. The futures contracts allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major stock indexes in Europe were mostly higher. Germany’s DAX was flat, while France’s CAC 40 edged up 1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up nearly 0.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was virtually unchanged. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched 0.1 percent higher.