US stocks move higher in early trading; oil heads lower
Gains by technology companies and banks helped send U.S. stocks higher in early trading Thursday. Retailers also rose after the government said retail sales jumped in November, fueled by holiday season shopping. Bond yields rose, weighing on utilities, phone companies and other high-yield stocks. U.S. oil prices were headed lower.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,667 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 58 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,643. The Nasdaq added 14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,890. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,526.
HOLIDAY BOOST: The Commerce Department said that sales at retailers and restaurants jumped 0.8 percent last month as consumers ramped up spending for the holidays. Sales in a category that mostly includes online shopping leapt 2.5 percent. Sales at electronics stores rose 2.1 percent, while furniture store sales increased 1.2 percent.
The report helped lift shares in retailers. Tiffany & Co. gained $ 3.59, or 3.7 percent, to $ 99.69, while Mattel added 45 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $ 16.04.
MICKEY’S FOX PLAY: Disney shares rose after the media giant said it is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $ 52.4 billion in stock. The deal includes film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses. The transaction also includes approximately $ 13.7 billion in debt. Robert Iger will continue as Disney’s chairman and CEO through the end of 2021. Disney was up 62 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $ 108.23. Fox rose 74 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $ 33.49.
TECH TRADE: Technology stocks accounted for some of the biggest gains. PayPal Holdings rose 82 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $ 74.91.
BETTING ON BANKS: Shares in banks and other financial companies were trading higher. Brighthouse Financial gained $ 1.29, or 2.2 percent, to $ 60.66.
PAINFUL MEDICINE: Teva Pharmaceuticals jumped 11.2 percent after the Israeli drugmaker said it would lay off 14,000 workers, or more than a quarter of its staff. The move is part of a global restructuring meant to salvage its ailing business. Its shares picked up $ 1.76 to $ 17.46.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.38 percent from 2.35 percent late Wednesday. The pickup in bond yields weighed on utilities, phone companies and other equity bond proxies. Alliant Energy slid 36 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $ 43.93.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 11 cents to $ 56.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 39 cents to $ 62.83 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.72 yen from 112.52 yen on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $ 1.1804 from $ 1.1820.
THE BITCOIN TRADE: Bitcoin futures were down on their fourth day of trading, dropping $ 395, or 2.3 percent, to $ 16,660 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $ 16,212 in trading on private exchanges, according to Coindesk. The price of the digital currency has soared this year, having begun 2017 under $ 1,000.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major stock indexes in Europe were mostly lower after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England opted to keep interest rates unchanged, as expected. Germany’s DAX was flat, while France’s CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gave up 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent.