Technology Companies, Retailers Lead U.S. Stocks Higher


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Technology companies and retailers led U.S. stocks higher in midday trading Monday and added to big gains from last week.

Microsoft and Amazon rose. Strong earnings helped push Botox maker Allergan higher. Communications and health-care companies helped round out some of the top gainers.

Energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, lagged the market as oil prices edged lower. Bank of America and Citigroup fell along with other banks.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged lower to 1.56%.

The gains follow a rally last week. Optimism gave way to caution late in the week as the virus outbreak originating in China continues to threaten the world’s economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% as of 11:50 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 80 points, or 0.3%, to 29,183. The Nasdaq rose 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.4%. Markets in Europe and Asia fell, though China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose slightly.

VIRUS UPDATE: The new virus has now infected more than 40,600 people; the majority of those cases and almost all of the deaths have occurred in China. The world’s second-largest economy has been taking more measures to soften the economic blow, including funding low-interest loans to businesses while promising tax cuts and subsidies.

Businesses continue feeling the impact globally. Sony and Amazon became the latest companies to pull out of a major European technology show due to fears over the outbreak.

CLEAN SHAVE: Edgewell Personal Care surged 24.7% after the owner of Schick razors said it would end its $1.37 billion buyout pursuit for upstart shaving company Harry’s. Edgewell, the No. 2 razor maker in the U.S., behind Gillette, made the decision shortly after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the sale.

MORE INK: Xerox rose 1.6% after the copier maker raised its offer for computer and printer maker HP to nearly $35 billion. HP, which rose 1.7%, had rejected a prior bid that it considered too low. Both companies are struggling as the demand for printed documents and ink have waned, and both are cutting costs.

WEEK AHEAD: Companies are more than halfway through their latest round of earnings and 65 companies in the S&P 500 will report this week. Toymaker Hasbro and hotel operator Hilton will release results on Tuesday. CVS Health will release its results on Wednesday and Kraft Heinz will report earnings on Thursday.

Investors will also have several economic reports to consider this week, including the government’s consumer price index update for January, along with retail sales and industrial production reports.

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