After Slow Start, Banks and Retailers Lead Stocks Higher

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell, in New York, Tuesday. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

U.S. stocks are turning higher Tuesday as banks, retailers and technology companies post gains. Retailers are rising following strong fourth-quarter results from Under Armour and more gains for Amazon. If the gains hold, it would mark the third straight increase for the market following a harrowing drop of more than 10 percent over the previous two weeks.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,659 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,616. The Nasdaq composite gained 17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,999. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,490.

Stocks have been making big swerves higher and lower recently, but so far, this is the calmest day on the stock market in almost two weeks. Last week the Dow twice fell 1,000 points in a day, sometimes gaining or losing hundreds of points in only a few minutes. So far on Tuesday, the gap between its highest and lowest mark Tuesday is just 217 points.

ON THE REBOUND: Under Armour climbed after it reported better-than-expected sales as shoe and accessory revenue picked up. The stock had plunged 50 percent in 2017 on top of a 30 percent decline in 2016. It rose $2.15, or 15.1 percent, to $16.38. Athletic apparel retailer Foot Locker also gained ground.

Amazon climbed $1.86, or 1.2 percent, to $1,403.09; and dollar stores, department stores and clothing companies made gains as well.

Meal kit company Blue Apron, which had fallen hard since it went public in June, took a smaller loss than analysts expected and posted stronger revenue. The stock rose 12 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $3.47. It went public at $10 a share in late June.

HEALTH SCARE: Prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen jumped $7.50, or 8.4 percent, to $96.95 after The Wall Street Journal reported that Walgreens Boots Alliance wants to buy the rest of the company. It already owns a 26 percent stake in AmerisourceBergen, which is one of the largest prescription drug distributors in the U.S. and also distributes products to hospitals and other health systems. The Wall Street Journal said that Walgreens reached out several weeks ago about a deal but that no offer has been made. Walgreens added 21 cents to $68.67.

Separately, the Journal reported that Amazon is looking to win over hospitals and clinics to distribute a variety of medical items. Two other distributors of prescription drugs also fell, as Cardinal Health lost $2.36, or 3.5 percent, to $65.67; and McKesson shed $3.45, or 2.3 percent, to $145.57.

In January, Amazon announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at reducing health care costs. It’s widely believed to have designs on a larger role in the health-care system.

CHIPPED TOOTH: The Federal Trade Commission said it is suing three large dental product suppliers for conspiring to deny discounts to groups that buy products for small practices. It said their actions violated antitrust law, and that Henry Schein, Patterson; and privately-held Benco control 85 percent of the $10 billion market for products like gloves, sterilization products, lights and dentists’ chairs.

Henry Schein rejected the allegations and said it will defend itself in court. Its stock fell $5.31, or 7.4 percent, to $66.87; and Patterson sank $2.03, or 6.2 percent, to $30.89.

PUMP IT UP: Nutrition supplement company GNC Holdings soared $1.27, or 30.2 percent, to $5.46 after it formed a joint venture with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group of China. Harbin is investing $300 million in GNC, which will make it the company’s largest shareholder.

OIL: Energy companies declined as benchmark U.S. crude fell 18 cents to $59.10 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 3 cents to $62.56 a barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.84 percent from 2.86 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.63 yen from 108.67 yen. The euro rose to $1.2357 from $1.2284.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX shed 0.7 percent, and the CAC 40 of France fell 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.1 percent.

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