Banks and other financial companies led U.S. indexes modestly higher in midday trading Thursday as investors weighed the latest batch of company earnings, deal news and economic data. Energy stocks also rose, getting a boost from rising crude oil prices. Utilities, real estate companies and other high-dividend paying stocks fell as bond yields headed higher.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,712 as of 12:07 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,366. The Nasdaq composite index gained 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,902.
THE QUOTE: “Equities are ending the first quarter in a reasonably good place,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “I do think equities trend sideways, probably for the next month. The rally since the election has centered around improved sentiment regarding tax reform and infrastructure spending, and that’s still a work in progress.”
LEADING THE PACK: Financials were up the most among the 11 sectors in the S&P 500. Zions Bancorporation rose 98 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $42.30. Capital One Financial gained $1.99, or 2.4 percent, to $86.67.
FOR SALE: ConocoPhillips jumped 9 percent after the energy company agreed to sell most of its Canadian assets to Canada’s Cenovus Energy in a deal valued at $13.2 billion. The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing $4.14 to $50.09.
DATA DEAL: Extreme Networks surged 17.6 percent after the network infrastructure equipment maker agreed to buy a data center, switching, routing and analytics business from Brocade Communications once Brocade is acquired by Broadcom. Shares in Extreme Networks rose $1.14 to $7.60.
REFRESHING RESULTS: Lindsay rose 3.6 percent after the irrigation equipment maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and a big jump in international sales. The stock gained $2.95 to $84.34.
BAD STRETCH: Lululemon sank 22.7 percent a day after the yoga clothing company’s forecast for the quarter fell well short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock slid $15.07 to $51.23.
FALLING SHORT: Science Applications International tumbled 12.2 percent after the information technology company’s latest quarterly results missed estimates. The company cited a variety of problems, including delays and declines in contract work. The stock lost $10.55 to $75.70.
ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT: The Commerce Department raised its estimate for economic growth in the fourth quarter to 2.1 percent from 1.9 percent, noting that consumer spending increased more than expected. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: World stocks were mixed. Germany’s DAX edged up 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 was 0.2 percent higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.5 percent. Some Asian indexes fell after Chinese authorities tightened liquidity in the financial system of the world’s second-largest economy. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent, while Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent. Southeast Asian indexes were mixed.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures were up 83 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $50.35 a barrel in New York. The contract rose $1.14 on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 60 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $53.14 a barrel in London.
TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices edged lower. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.40 percent from 2.38 percent late Wednesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.33 yen from 111.03 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.0726 from $1.0760.