Machinery Makers Lead Stocks Higher

Machinery Makers Lead Stocks Higher

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are trading higher Tuesday morning with industrial companies leading the way. Banks are also rising as central banks in the U.S. and Japan meet to discuss potential changes in interest rates and stimulus measures.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average gained 77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,196 as of 10:22 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,147. The Nasdaq composite picked up 18 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,252. Among industrial companies, General Electric rose 29 cents, or 1 percent, to $29.72 and Rockwell Automation climbed $1.52, or 1.3 percent, to $116.46.

FED FACTOR: The Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan are both at the start of two-day meetings. Investors don't expect the Fed to raise interest rates, but they will keep an eye on its plans for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan is expected to unveil some further measures to boost the ailing Japanese economy. That could include an increase in its stimulus program or a further cut in the deposit rate as a way to encourage banks to lend money.

ASCENA PLUNGES: Ascena Retail Group, the parent of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant and Dress Barn, dropped to a six-year low. The company reported weak quarterly results and gave a forecast that didn't live up to investor expectations. The company bought Ann Taylor a year ago and also struggled with discounts from competitors and shaky demand. Its stock lost $2.29, or 28.2 percent, to $5.83.

ANOTHER ALLERGAN DEAL: Allergan, the maker of Botox, announced yet another acquisition as it agreed to buy liver disease drug developer Tobira Therapeutics for as much as $1.47 billion. Tobira is studying drugs that treat symptoms of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a disease that triggers inflammation that can lead to cirrhosis, cancer and liver failure. Tobira stock lost about half its value in July after one of its drugs failed in a mid-stage clinical study.

Tobira stock traded over $100 in 2014 and closed at $4.74 on Monday. Allergan agreed to pay $28.35 a share upfront, and could pay another $49.84 depending on how the company's drugs fare in testing. Tobira shares skyrocketed to $39.22 and Allergan fell $5.29, or 2.2 percent, to $240.

HOME NOT SO SWEET: The Commerce Department said the pace of home construction slowed down in August as fewer homes were built in the South. While housing starts have increased this year and monthly housing reports can be volatile, the result hurt shares of homebuilders. PulteGroup gave up 53 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $19.35 and Beazer Homes fell 24 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $10.90. Lennar, which reported strong quarter results, shed $1.32, or 2.9 percent, to $43.77.

SEAWORLD SINKS: Water park operator SeaWorld Entertainment said it will stop paying dividends to shareholders. It will pay a dividend of 10 cents in October, down from 21 cents the quarter before, and then save its cash so it can buy back more stock. SeaWorld has faced falling attendance and revenue as some consumers have grown reluctant to support its shows featuring killer whales and dolphins. Earlier this year SeaWorld said it will stop breeding killer whales and will stop using them in shows. Its stock gave up 46 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $12.23.

CRUISING ALONG: Royal Caribbean Cruises added 2.70, or 4.1 percent, to $68.19 after the company raised its quarterly dividend to 48 cents from 37.5 cents.

OUT ON A PIER: Home decor retailer Pier 1 Imports rose 5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $4.15 after Alden Global Capital disclosed a 9.5 percent stake in the company and said it wants to have talks with the board of directors. Pier 1's stock tumbled earlier this month after the company decor retailer gave a weak outlook and said its president and CEO will leave at the end of the year.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.67 percent from 1.71 percent. The dollar fell to 101.71 yen from 101.81 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1176 from $1.1178.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 17 cents to $43.13 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 41 cents to $45.54 a barrel in London.

OVERSEAS: France's CAC 40 was up 0.2 percent while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent. In Britain, the FTSE 100 index was 0.6 percent higher. Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 0.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.1 percent.