Technology Companies, Banks Lead Rebound for U.S. Stocks

NEW YORK (AP) -

A rebound in technology companies and banks helped reverse an early slide for U.S. stocks Thursday, breaking a five-day losing streak for the market.

Health care and industrial stocks also rose, offsetting losses in retailers, homebuilders, utilities and other sectors. Energy stocks also helped lift the market as the price of U.S. crude oil rose for the second straight day.

The S&P 500 index rose 28.62 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,730.20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 208.77 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,289.27. The Nasdaq composite climbed 122.64 points, or 1.7 percent, to 7,259.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 21.62 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,524.12.

Thursday’s market rebound coincided with a Financial Times report citing unnamed sources that said U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, has told some executives a planned escalation in January of U.S. tariffs on imported goods from China is now on hold.

Technology sector stocks accounted for much of the market’s gain. Cisco Systems rose 5.5 percent to $46.77 a day after the firm reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street’s forecasts.

Financial sector stocks rebounded after taking heavy losses a day earlier. JPMorgan Chase gained 2.6 percent to $110.07.

Power provider Pacific Gas & Electric plunged for the sixth-straight day as concerns mounted over whether it could sustain losses related to the devastating wildfire in Northern California, which started Nov. 8 and has killed at least 56 people.

The company’s stock price has plunged 63 percent since Nov. 8, wiping out $15.6 billion of market value. PG&E stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index Thursday. It sank 30.7 percent to $17.74.

Oil prices closed higher for the second straight day. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.4 percent to settle at $56.46 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.8 percent to close at $66.62 a barrel in London.

Despite the latest pickup, U.S. crude oil is still down about 13.5 percent for the month. The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. has dropped to $2.67 from $2.89 a month ago, according to AAA.

Natural gas, which spiked Wednesday amid forecasts calling for a cold snap across much of the Northeast and South, slumped 16.5 percent to $4.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 1 percent to $2.07 a gallon and wholesale gasoline slid 0.3 percent to $1.56 a gallon.

Energy stocks got a boost from the pickup in oil prices. Noble Energy gained 3.1 percent to $29.50.

Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury fell to 3.11 percent from 3.12 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 113.58 yen from 113.51 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1348 from $1.1338. The pound weakened to $1.2791 from $1.3038.

The price of gold gained 0.4 percent to $1,215 an ounce. Silver rose 1.3 percent to $14.26 an ounce. Copper added 1.3 percent to $2.75 a pound.

Major European stock indexes closed mostly lower after a flare-up in discord over British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for Britain’s exit from the EU next year. The disarray surrounding the process sent the pound lower and hit British bank stocks.