U.S. Stock Indexes Edge Higher in Light Trading, Led by Tech

(AP) -
stocks, markets, wall street, U.S. stocks
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

U.S. stock indexes were up slightly in light trading Thursday morning as technology companies posted more gains. Financial stocks were also moving higher as bond yields and interest rates rose. Retailers were among the big laggards. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices veered lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,684 as of 11:44 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 49 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,823. The Nasdaq increased by 6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,945. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was up less than 1 point to 1,544.

TECH GAINS: Technology stocks bounced back after several days of losses. Western Union picked up 20 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $19.01.

FINANCIALS CLIMB: Banks and other financial companies rose as bond yields rose and interest rates recovered from a steep drop Wednesday. Northern Trust rose $1.24, or 1.3 percent, to $99.92.

DINING & ENTERTAINMENT: Netflix, Amazon, Starbucks and other consumer-focused companies posted gains. Netflix rose $5.61, or 3 percent, to $191.86, while Amazon was up $2.96 to $1,185. Starbucks rose 45 cents, or about 1 percent, to $57.72.

ROUGH ROAD: JB Hunt Transportation Services slid 2 percent after the trucking company issued a disappointing fourth-quarter profit forecast. JB Hunt expects to take about $40 million in one-time charges for the quarter. The stock shed $2.27 to $113.20.

LACKLUSTER QUARTER: Calumet Specialty Products Partners tumbled 9.6 percent after the oil and solvents processor reported disappointing third-quarter results. The stock shed 85 cents to $8.

OIL & GAS: Benchmark U.S. crude slid 8 cents to $59.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 22 cents to $65.77 per barrel in London. Natural gas prices climbed as temperatures dropped in the U.S. Natural gas rose 21 cents, or 7.6 percent, to $2.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.43 percent from 2.41 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 112.87 yen from 113.26 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1950 from $1.1899.

THE BITCOIN TRADE: The price of bitcoin fell 7.3 percent to $14,254 as of 11:37 a.m. ET, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange slid 5.1 percent to $14,180. South Korea’s government announced additional measures Thursday to curb speculative trading of virtual currencies in the country, including a ban on opening anonymous accounts.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe closed lower. Germany’s DAX slipped 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC 40 lost 0.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains to finish 0.6 percent lower. South Korea’s Kospi surged 1.3 percent after government data showed strong gains in retail sales and industrial output last month. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent.