Tech Companies Lead U.S. Stocks Broadly Higher; Oil Slumps

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks closed higher on Wall Street for the second straight day Wednesday, extending Tuesday’s strong gains as investors bet an interest rate cut could be ahead.

Technology, industrial and health care companies accounted for much of the broad gains, which were tempered by a slide in energy stocks following a 3.4% plunge in the price of U.S. crude oil.

Traders shrugged off a report showing private U.S. companies added the fewest jobs in nine years last month. The bleak jobs snapshot may have been welcomed by investors hoping that it could help persuade the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

The S&P 500 index gained 22.8 points, or 0.8%, to 2,826.15. The benchmark index’s 2.1% gain Tuesday was its best performance since January.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 207.39 points, or 0.8%, to 25,539.57. The Nasdaq composite rose 48.36 points, or 0.6%, to 7,575.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 1.77 points, or 0.1%, to 1,506.79.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed broadly higher.

Bond prices rose, pulling down yields on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.12% from 2.13% late Tuesday.

Stocks slumped in May as investors grew anxious over the trade disputes. An escalating trade war between the U.S. and China and the added threat of a new trade war with Mexico sent investors fleeing to safer holdings, like bonds.

The U.S. and Mexico were holding trade talks in Washington late Wednesday afternoon. A 5% tariff on imports from Mexico, which could affect U.S. companies making everything from cars to beer and tacos, is due to go into effect on Monday, barring an agreement between the two countries. The Trump administration is demanding that Mexico step up efforts to halt Central American migrants from making their way to the U.S.

Oil prices slumped following a report showing an unexpected surge in U.S. crude supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude settled at $51.68 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, closed 2.2% lower at $60.63 a barrel.

U.S. crude has fallen in five of the past six weeks amid signs that China’s economic growth is slowing. It’s now 22.1% below its 2019 closing high of $66.30 in April. The slide puts U.S. crude in what Wall Street calls a bear market.

Occidental Petroleum dropped 4.6% and Halliburton slid 3.5%.

Technology companies were among the most notable gainers Wednesday. Apple rose 1.6% and Microsoft added 2.2%. Salesforce climbed 5.1% after blowing away profit forecasts.

Traders also snapped up health care stocks. Boston Scientific gained 2.5% and Medtronic rose 2.3%.

Industrial stocks rose broadly, with notable gains by airlines as fuel costs fell. American Airlines Group gained 4.3% and Southwest Airlines rose 2.6%.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1.8% to $1.69 per gallon. Heating oil dropped 2.3% to $1.78 per gallon. Natural gas slid 1.6% to $2.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold inched 0.4% higher to $1,333.60 per ounce, silver added 0.1% to $14.79 per ounce and copper fell 1.7% to $2.62 per pound.

The dollar rose to 108.42 Japanese yen from 108.07 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1228 from $1.1258.