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US stocks sharply higher in afternoon trading; oil rises

U.S. stocks surged in afternoon trading Monday, putting the market on course to snap a nine-day losing streak. Financial and health care stocks led the broad rally, as investors focused on the latest turns in the presidential race in the final hours before Election Day.

The FBI announced late Sunday that its review of newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails found no evidence warranting charges. That appeared to ease the market’s anxiety, which ratcheted up in recent weeks over signs that the presidential race was tightening.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average gained 349 points, or 2 percent, to 18,238 as of 2:32 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 43 points, or 2.1 percent, to 2,129. The Nasdaq composite index added 116 points, or 2.3 percent, to 5,162.

MARKET REBOUND: The S&P 500, a key market benchmark, is coming off its longest losing streak since 1980. It lost 66 points during the nine-day slide. So far, Monday’s gains have wiped out more than half of those losses. The S&P 500 was on track to notch its biggest single-day gain since March.

ELECTION EFFECT: Clinton appeared to be holding on to an edge in the final stretch leading into Tuesday’s general election a day after FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers that a review of new Clinton emails did not change the bureau’s recommendation that she should not face charges.

Clinton’s solid lead began to shrink on Oct. 28 after the FBI notified Congress that it was reviewing the emails. As the polls tightened, uncertainty over the outcome of the election rattled financial markets, which see Clinton as likely to maintain the status quo, while Donald Trump’s policies are less clear.

THE QUOTE: “This is not a rational market. This is a reaction to less uncertainty,” said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management. “In those kinds of markets, people are jumping into stocks that they think are cheap. And what are the cheapest right now? Financials and health care.”

FEELING BETTER: Several health care and pharmaceutical companies were among the biggest gainers. AbbVie added $3.39, or 6.1 percent, to $59.43, while Regeneron Pharmaceuticals gained $21.39, or 6.3 percent, to $362.78. Biogen climbed $17.88, or 6.5 percent, to $294.88. HCA Holdings rose $4.07, or 5.4 percent, to $79.40, while Humana added $7.77, or 4.6 percent, to $175.19.

MEMORY MAKERS: Shares in digital storage companies Seagate Technology and Western Digital were both climbing. Seagate gained $1.53, or 4.6 percent, to $34.53, while Western Digital added $2.24, or 4.1 percent, to $57.26.

SPARKLING DEAL: Blue Nile surged 33.9 percent on news that the online jewelry retailer is being acquired by a group of funds managed by Bank Capital and Bow Street. The stock added $10.31 to $40.75.

STRONG QUARTER: LendingClub vaulted 13.8 percent after the peer-to-peer lender reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The stock gained 71 cents to $5.84.

FLIGHT FROM SAFETY: The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect to see in the market over the next 30 days, slumped 17.1 percent Monday after surging 40 percent last week to its highest level since June, when Britain voted to leave the European Union. The slide in the VIX reflected less anxiety among investors. Safe haven investments also slumped as investors felt comfortable taking on more risk. Bond prices fell, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.83 percent from 1.78 percent late Friday. Utilities and phone stocks, two other havens investors seek when they expect turmoil, lagged the market.

Gold and silver also fell. The price of gold slid $25.10, or 1.9 percent, to $1,279.40 an ounce, while silver lost 22 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $18.15 an ounce. Copper bucked the trend, rising 5 cents, or 2 percent, to $2.31 a pound.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.9 percent. Britain’s FTSE added 1.7 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 finished 1.6 percent higher, while South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.8 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong added 0.7 percent.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 82 cents, or 1.9 percent, to close at $44.89 a barrel in New York. The price of oil is coming off a six-day losing streak. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was up 56 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $46.14 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened across the board. It was up to 104.55 yen from 103.13 on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1038 from $1.1117. The dollar was down 2 percent to 18.64 Mexican pesos from 19.03 pesos. The Mexican currency has become an indirect proxy among investors for Trump’s chances to win the White House. Investors have speculated that a Trump administration would be negative for the Mexican economy, and would cause the Mexican peso’s value to fall as a result.

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