U.S. Stocks Close Modestly Higher, Add to Gains From Last Week

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. stocks closed modestly higher Monday, extending the market’s gains from last week. Technology companies and banks accounted for much of the latest gains, outweighing losses among beverage makers and other consumer goods companies.

The S&P 500 index rose 9.21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,672.63. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 94.81 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,357.32. The Nasdaq added 55.60 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,265.21. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 13.34 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,578.95.

Trading got off to a solid start early Monday, as investors weighed the big move in energy futures.

Crude oil prices have been rising as investors weigh heightened geopolitical risks in the Middle East, a push by OPEC to slash oil production and strong worldwide demand amid a global economic expansion.

On Monday, oil futures climbed to their highest level since November 2014 as a May 12 deadline approached for the U.S. to decide whether to remain in the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.01, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $70.73 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.30, or 1.7 percent, to close at $76.17 a barrel in London.

The pickup in oil prices helped lift energy company shares. Range Resources rose 3.7 percent to $14.12.

Technology companies accounted for a big slice of the S&P 500’s gains. Nvidia led the sector, rising 4 percent to $248.68. Financial sector stocks also racked up solid gains. Morgan Stanley added 1.9 percent to $52.39. Walgreens Boots Alliance slumped 2.4 percent to $62.30, the biggest decliner in the sector that includes food, beverage and other consumer goods companies.

Corporate earnings, meanwhile, have also been a source of good news for investors.

Roughly 80 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported results so far this earnings season, and some 62 percent of those have delivered both earnings and revenue that exceeded financial analysts’ expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Investors also had their eye on the latest company deal news.

Starbucks slipped 0.4 percent to $57.45 after Nestle paid $7.15 billion for the rights to sell the company’s coffee products around the world. Nestle gained 1.4 percent to $77.35.

Shares in athenahealth vaulted 16.4 percent to $146.75 on news that Elliott Management has made a bid to acquire the medical software and services company. Gramercy Property Trust jumped 15.4 percent to $27.50 after Blackstone Group offered to buy the commercial real estate owner in a deal valued at around $7.6 billion.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 2.95 percent.

The dollar fell to 109.06 yen from 109.11 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1923 from $1.1962.

Gold slipped 60 cents to $1,314.10 an ounce. Silver dropped 2 cents to $16.50 an ounce. Copper lost a penny to $3.08 a pound.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil rose 3 cents to $2.19 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $2.13 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 3 cents to $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.