Technology And Health Care Stocks Jump As US Indexes Climb

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are rising Friday as technology and health care companies make more gains. Chipmaker Intel and drugmaker AbbVie are jumping after they did far better than analysts expected in the fourth quarter. Bond prices are falling, sending yields higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 18 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,858 as of 1:15 p.m. The Dow Jones industrial average added 16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,508. The Nasdaq composite rose 52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,463. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lagged behind as the dollar weakened further. It rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,603.

Already at record highs, the S&P 500 is on track for its largest monthly increase since October 2015. It has been more than a year and a half since the index went through a decline of 5 percent. That's the longest streak in its history, although investors say they are starting to see signs of increased volatility.

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U.S. GROWTH: In its first of three estimates, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter. That's a bit less than analysts predicted but still a solid result. The economy grew 2.3 percent in 2017, better than the year before but about the same as its overall average since the end of the Great Recession. Experts think growth will speed up this year, partly because of the tax cut package signed into law in December.

CHIPS AHOY: Intel jumped after it posted strong results for the fourth quarter and forecast $65 billion in revenue this year, more than analysts expected. The company said its data center business did well and recently-discovered flaws in many of its processors aren't affecting its sales, a possibility that had worried investors. Intel said new processors that address those flaws will be on the market later this year. The stock added $4.22, or 9.3 percent, to $49.52. Other chipmakers also traded higher after struggling over the last few days.

Cloud computing company VMware jumped $24.16, or 17.6 percent, to $161.79 after The Wall Street Journal reported that Dell is interested in taking full control of the company.

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HEALTHY GAINS: Drugmaker AbbVie posted a better-than-expected profit and greater sales. Its revenue from Humira, an inflammatory disease treatment that is the world's biggest-selling drug by revenue, climbed 14 percent. AbbVie also raised its profit forecast for 2018. The stock jumped $11.59, or 10.7 percent, to $119.89. Biogen rose $16.07, or 4.5 percent, to $369.81 and Gilead Sciences picked up $3.44, or 4.2 percent, to $84.63.

Pfizer rose on reports it's getting closer to a deal to sell its consumer health care business, a possibility Pfizer raised in October. A variety of companies have been reported as possible buyers, but Pfizer said it won't announce a decision on whether it will sell the business or not until some time this year. It stock gained $1.63, or 4.4 percent, to $38.85.

WYNN PLUNGES: Shares of Wynn Resorts tumbled after The Wall Street Journal reported dozens of allegations of sexual assault and harassment by Steve Wynn, the casino operator's chairman, CEO and biggest shareholder. Wynn denied the reports. The company's stock gave up $16.85, or 8.4 percent, to $183.75.

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WEAK BREW: Starbucks skidded $3.79, or 6.3 percent, to $57.76 after it posted weaker growth than investors had hoped. Analysts were unhappy with its results outside the U.S., and Starbucks also sales of holiday merchandise were weak.

DOLLAR DOWN: The dollar declined further against other currencies. It fell to 108.42 yen from 109.41 yen. The euro rose to $1.2442 from $1.2391. The ICE US dollar index is at three-year lows and has declined for six weeks in a row. It made a small rebound late Thursday after Trump and Mnuchin said they believe in a stronger dollar, which cut against comments from Mnuchin earlier this week when he noted that a weaker dollar helps U.S. exporters.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.66 percent from 2.62 percent. Earlier it reached its highest level in three and a half years.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude 59 cents to $66.10 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 18 cents to $70.60 per barrel in London.

Natural gas rose 9 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $3.53 per 1,000 cubic feet.

OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 in France jumped 0.9 percent while the German DAX gained 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.7 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 1.5 percent.

– Marley Jay, Associated Press reporter



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