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US stocks make small gains, led by health care stocks

U.S. stocks are mostly higher Monday afternoon following two weeks of losses. Health care stocks are making the biggest gains. Energy, metals and machinery companies are falling. Weak economic reports from China are sending the prices of fuels and precious metals lower and raising more concerns about a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 35 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,704 as of 12:24 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,059. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,756.

Energy companies took hefty losses on the reports from China. Exxon Mobil and Chevron helped pull the Dow lower. So did Caterpillar, which lost ground as machinery companies slumped.

DOUGH FOR DOUGHNUTS: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts agreed to be taken private by JAB Beech for about $1.35 billion, or $21 per share. The company’s Board approved the sale and shareholders will vote on it in June. Krispy Kreme’s stock jumped $4.06, or 24.1 percent, to $20.92.

OUT OF THE CLUB: LendingClub tumbled $1.85, or 26.1 percent, to $5.25 after its chairman and CEO resigned. The company, an online marketplace that connects borrowers and investors, said Renaud Laplanche left the company after an internal review of the sale of $22 million in loans to an investor.

LendingClub said he violated company business practices and didn’t fully disclose his actions during a company review.

ON THE MEND: Health care stocks rose more than the rest of the market. Botox maker Allergan, which has fallen after the breakup of its sale to Pfizer, climbed $14.12, or 7 percent, to $215.77. Mallinckrodt, which has tumbled in recent months as investors worried about its ability to raise drug prices, added $2.83, or 5 percent, to $59.23.

Health care real estate investment trust HCP rose after a strong earnings report. HCP gained $1.67, or 4.8 percent, to $36.22.

CHINA: Reports showed that China’s exports fell by 1.8 percent in April from a year earlier and imports plunged 10.9 percent. Both totals were weaker than analysts expected. China is a critical market for fuels and metals, and investors worried that the import and export data means demand is getting weaker.

COMMODITIES: U.S. crude oil fell $1.15, or 2.6 percent, to $43.51 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, fell $1.57, or 3.5 percent, to $43.80 a barrel in London.

Among energy companies, Exxon Mobil lost 81 cents to $87.70 and Chevron gave up $1.96, or 1.9 percent, to $99.90, which helped pull the Dow lower.

Gold dropped $28.90, or 2.2 percent, to $1,265.10 an ounce and silver lost 52 cents, or 3 percent, to $17.01 an ounce. Copper sank 5 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $2.11 a pound.

Gold producer Newmont Mining fell $2.11, or 6.2 percent, to $32.02. Gold and copper miner Freeport-McMoRan lost $1.26, or 10.7 percent, to $10.53. Aluminum producer Alcoa fell 47 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $9.57.

TASTY: Meat producer Tyson Foods raised its annual forecasts after its second-quarter results surpassed Wall Street estimates. Its stock added $1.20, or 1.8 percent, to $68.45. Copmetitor Hormel Foods rose $1.32, or 3.4 percent, to $39.87.

REDSTONE RULING: CBS and Viacom slumped after a judge dismissed a case that challenged the mental competency of Sumner Redstone, who controls both companies. An ex-girlfriend had challenged the 92-year-old’s ability to make decisions about his medical care. Viacom’s fell 89 cents, or 2 percent, to $43.65 and CBS lost $1.39, or 2.4 percent, to $56.29.

GET AWAY, GANNETT: Tribune Publishing traded lower after it tried to block a takeover by USA Today owner Gannett. Tribune says it adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan. Known as a “poison pill,” these types of plans are used to fight off hostile takeovers.

Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Last week the company rejected a $388 million offer from Gannett. Tribune stock slid 11 cents to $11.50.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX advanced 1.1 percent while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares dipped 0.2 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index sank 2.8 percent. Seoul’s Kospi was off 0.4 percent while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent.

GERMANY BOOST: Germany’s DAX stock index was the standout performer in Europe after figures showed factory orders up strongly in March. The Federal Statistical Office said new orders rose 1.9 percent in March compared with the previous month. It also adjusted February’s decline to a drop of only 0.8 percent over January, less than the 1.2 percent drop initially reported.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices continued to rise. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.75 percent from 1.78 percent late Friday. The dollar rose to 108.42 yen from 107.13 yen. The euro rose to $1.1404 from $1.1401.


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