Stocks Led Higher by Health Care Sector

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are opening slightly higher on Wall Street as the market comes off its biggest monthly gain in four years. Health care stocks were among the early winners.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,724 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,086. The Nasdaq composite index climbed 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,068.

PULL OUT THE PLASTIC: Payments processor Visa said it will buy sister company Visa Europe in a deal that could be worth more than $23 billion. Visa Europe has been a separate company since 2004. Visa dipped $2.77, or 3.7 percent, to $74.81.

SLIMMING DOWN: ConAgra Foods said it will sell its private label business to TreeHouse Foods for $2.7 billion. The company will focus on name brands like Chef Boyardee and Slim Jim. Shares added 76 cents, or about 2 percent, to $41.31.

OUTBREAK: Chipotle stumbled as an E. coli outbreak linked to restaurants in Oregon and Washington state spread. The Mexican restaurant chain has shut down all 43 of its restaurants in those states. Officials said Friday that more than 20 people have gotten sick and that number is expected to increase as word of the outbreak spreads. No deaths have been reported. Chipotle Mexican Grill lost $29.25, or 4.6 percent, to $610.98.

SHIRE EXPANDS: Irish drugmaker Shire will buy Dyax for at least $5.9 billion, or $37.30 per share. Dyax is studying treatments for a rare genetic disease called hereditary angioedema, which can cause dangerous swelling of the throat or larynx. Shire makes two other treatments for that condition. Dyax shares rose $8.74, or 31.7 percent, to $36.27.

HEALTH CARE: Drug giant Pfizer rose 81 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $34.64, the biggest gain in the Dow. AbbVie, which surged 10 percent Friday on strong third-quarter results, rose $2.34, or 3.9 percent, to $61.89.

OVERSEAS: Britain's FTSE 100 was 0.3 percent lower at 6,345.35, though Germany's DAX recovered from a weak open to rise 0.8 percent to 10,939.29. The CAC 40 of France edged up 0.4 percent to 4,917.22.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil was down 11 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $46.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, slid 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $49.36 a barrel in London.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.17 percent from 2.15 percent Friday. The dollar fell to 120.58 yen from 120.70 yen, and the euro rose to $1.1041 from $1.0003.

(BAS)