BY ALEX VEIGA
Technology companies led U.S. stocks modestly higher in afternoon trading Monday. Health care companies also helped lift the market, outweighing losses among banks and makers of packaged foods and other consumer goods. Energy stocks rose along with the price of crude oil. Traders had their eye on bitcoin futures, which made their market debut.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,657 as of 1:33 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 31 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,360. The Nasdaq composite added 30 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,870b. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,522.
CENTRAL BANK WATCH: Investors have their eye this week on the Federal Reserve, which is scheduled to issue an interest rate policy update on Wednesday. The Fed is expected to lift rates by 0.25 percent. That would be the third interest rate hike by the central bank this year.
TECH SWELL: Gains among technology companies helped lift the market. Symantec rose 98 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $28.96. Apple was up 1.8 percent after the website Apple Insider said the company is delivering new iPhones to customers at a faster pace. Apple also made news after it agreed to acquire the Shazam music-identification service for an undisclosed amount. The stock added $3.09 to $172.46.
BITCOIN: Trading in bitcoin futures declined slightly Monday from their overnight high following the virtual currency’s debut Sunday on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The contract that expires in January was trading at $17,920. The price had risen as high as $18,850, according to data from the CBOE.
The CBOE futures allow traders to make bets on the future direction of bitcoin. The price of an actual bitcoin has soared since it began the year below $1,000 and on Friday was at $16,516 on the private exchange Coindesk. Overstock.com, which accepts bitcoin, surged $9.77, or 21.7 percent, to $54.85.
ENCOURAGING RESULTS: Drugmaker bluebird bio surged 23.8 percent after it reported results from an early study of a cancer treatment that the company is developing with Celgene. Shares in bluebird gained $40.65 to $211.80. Celgene added $2.79, or 2.6 percent, to $108.88.
UNAPPETIZING: Several packaged food and beverage stocks were trading lower. Tyson Foods slid $1.52, or 1.8 percent, to $82.10.
FINANCIALS SLIDE: Shares in banks and other financial companies declined. Zions Bancorporation shed 77 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $50.17.
ICAHN DO IT: Xerox shares slipped on news that Carl Icahn will nominate four directors to the company’s board. One Xerox director linked to Icahn resigned as the activist investor called off a standstill agreement with Xerox that started in June 2016. Xerox was down 8 cents to $29.51.
BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2.38 percent.
ENERGY: The price of oil rose, with benchmark U.S. crude gaining 43 cents to $57.79 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.27, or 2 percent, to $64.67 per barrel in London.
The pickup in oil prices helped boost energy sector stocks. Chesapeake Energy added 14 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $3.83, while Range Resources climbed 63 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $16.70.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.49 yen from 113.51 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.1791 from $1.1768.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.2 percent, while the CAC 40 in France fell 0.2 percent. Britain’s added 0.8 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.0 percent. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia edged 0.1 percent higher. South Korea’s Kospi picked up 0.3 percent. India’s Sensex rose 0.2 percent. Shares in Southeast Asia also rose.
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