Belfast Telegraph

Gains for energy companies and banks boost US stock indexes

US stocks rose on Monday as banks continued to climb along with interest rates, and energy companies rallied again with oil prices.

Better-than-expected car sales and a strong report on factories also boosted stocks.

Energy companies made large gains in an abbreviated trading session as oil prices rose for the eighth day in a row.

Banks rose as bond yields and interest rates continued to rise. Companies that stand to benefit from faster economic growth, like industrial companies and basic materials makers, climbed after the Institute for Supply Management said US manufacturing activity climbed in June to its highest level in almost three years.

"The market clearly liked that number," said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

He said that economic reports over the last few months had been a bit disappointing, but "it's still in line with expectations for modest GDP growth".

The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 5.61 points, or 0.2%, to 2,429.02, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 129.64 points, or 0.6%, to 21,479.27, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 11.32 points, or 0.8%, to finish at a record high of 1,426.68.

The Nasdaq composite lost 30.36 points, or 0.5%, to 6,110.06. That was a six-week low, as technology companies have been slumping for almost a month.

Overall, almost three-quarters of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange finished higher.

Banks continued their recent winning ways as bond yields and interest rates increased further.

Higher interest rates let banks make more money from lending, and that helped financial companies rally last week.

Major banks also raised their dividends and said they will buy back more stock. JPMorgan Chase added 1.85 dollars, or 2%, to 92.75 dollars, and Citigroup rose 1.38 dollars, or 2.1%, to 68.26 dollars. Morgan Stanley climbed 1.05 dollars, or 2.4%, to 45.61 dollars.

Bond prices fell - the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34% from 2.30%.

US factories did more work in June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The group's survey of manufacturing reached its highest level since August 2014, suggesting the economy could be getting stronger and US manufacturing continues to recover after a slump in late 2015 and early 2016.

General Electric rose 44 cents, or 1.6%, to 27.45 dollars, and chemicals maker DuPont added 1.42 dollars, or 1.8%, to 82.13 dollars.

Benchmark US crude gained 73 cents, or 1.6%, to 46.77 dollars a barrel in New York, its eighth gain in a row. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 62 cents, or 1.3%, to 49.39 dollars a barrel in London.

Before their recent winning streak, crude prices had reached their lowest levels of the year. Exxon Mobil rose 1.37 dollars, or 1.7%, to 82.10 dollars, and ConocoPhillips added 1.70 dollars, or 3.9%, to 45.66 dollars.

Car companies reported their monthly sales on Monday, and while overall sales continued to slip, the stocks mostly traded higher as investors felt the results were reasonably strong.

Ford and GM said their sales each fell about 5%, but Ford gained 37 cents, or 3.3%, to 11.56 dollars, and GM rose 64 cents, or 1.8%, to 35.57 dollars.

Fiat Chrysler advanced 44 cents, or 4.1%, to 11.07 dollars despite a 7% decline in its sales. Car parts companies mostly rose as well.

Consumer financial services company Bankrate climbed 1.10 dollars, or 8.6%, to 13.95 dollars after it agreed to be acquired by Red Ventures for 14 dollars a share, or 1.25 billion dollars.

Activist investment firm Jana Partners disclosed a 5.8% stake in EQT and said it opposes the energy company's plan to buy Rice Energy.

The firm said it wants EQT to split off its exploration and production business instead. EQT agreed to buy Rice Energy for 6.7 billion dollars in cash and stock last month.

The deal would make EQT the largest US producer of natural gas. EQT shares added 1.16 dollars, or 2%, to 59.75 dollars while Rice Energy tumbled 97 cents, or 3.6%, to 25.66 dollars.

In other energy trading, wholesale petrol added 1 cent to 1.53 dollars a gallon and heating oil rose 3 cents to 1.51 dollars a gallon. Natural gas dropped 7 cents, or 2.3%, to 2.97 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Precious metals prices dropped. Gold fell 23.10 dollars, or 1.9%, to 1,219.20 dollars an ounce while silver lost 54 cents, or 3.2%, to 16.09 dollars an ounce. Copper slipped 2 cents to 2.69 dollars a pound.

Gold and copper miner Newmont Mining fell 50 cents, or 1.5%, to 31.89 dollars.

The dollar jumped to 113.37 yen from 112.54 yen on Friday. The euro fell to 1.1368 dollars from 1.1422 dollars.

AP

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