US Stocks Inch Higher

US Stocks Inch Higher

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are slightly higher Monday morning. After a market nose dive on Friday, investors are putting more of their money into safe investments like household goods makers and phone companies. Banks and energy companies are taking losses. Stock indexes overseas are skidding as investors worry about the possibility of an imminent U.S. interest rate hike.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,132 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,13. The Nasdaq composite jumped 24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,149.

FED FEARS: Investors bought investments that they see as safe, including household goods companies. Retail giant Wal-Mart rose 81 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $71.11 and toothpaste maker Colgate-Palmolive gained 66 cents to $71.52. Phone companies also rose and AT&T gained 46 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $40.17.

U.S. stocks plunged about 2.5 percent Friday, their biggest loss in two months, after Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said there's a case to be made the U.S. central bank should raise rates sooner rather than later. The Fed could raise interest rates next week, but investors aren't sure the economy is healthy enough to handle it. The losses Friday wiped out two months of gradual gains on the market.

FERTILE SOIL: Canadian companies Agrium and Potash Corp. of Saskachewan agreed to combine into the world's largest crop nutrient company. The companies value their combined business at $36 billion, and they expect the deal to close in the middle of next year. Potash shareholders will own a majority of stock in the new company. Potash stock added 4 cents to $17.01 and Agruim dipped $1.25, or 1.3 percent, to $93.96.

BANKS: Banks took the largest losses in early trading. JPMorgan Chase fell 65 cents, or 1 percent, to $66 and Citigroup shed 64 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $46.54. Banks took the smallest losses on the market Friday as investors speculated that interest rates might start rising soon. When interest rates rise, banks make bigger profits on lending.

CTRL ALT+P: HP stock edged higher after the company agreed to buy Samsung's printer business for $1.05 billion. That division has more than 6,500 printing patents. HP rose 14 cents, or 1 percent, to $14.09.

PERRI-GOING UP: Irish drug and ingredient maker Perrigo added $3.41, or 3.8 percent, to $92.12 after the activist investment firm Starboard Value bought a 4.6-percent stake in the company. Starboard Value said Perrigo needs to make changes to its business, including boosting profit margins for some of its major businesses, and notes that the company's stock hasn't done well since Perrigo rejected an offer from Mylan NV. Perrigo said it will review Starboard's comments.

OIL: U.S. crude rose 24 cents to $46.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil trading, climbed 25 cents to $48.26 a barrel in London.

Energy Transfer Pipeline fell 86 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $38.28. On Friday a federal judge ruled that the company can build a $3.8 billion pipeline that is intended to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. But the federal government temporarily stopped the project and several agencies said they will reconsider some of their decisions. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe wants to stop construction of the pipeline, which comes within a mile of a reservation in southern North Dakota.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX was down 1.5 percent while the CAC-40 in France also fell 1.8 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gave up 1.2 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 1.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi slid 2.3 percent. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng shed 3.4 percent.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices didn't move much, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained 1.68 percent. The dollar fell to 101.93 yen from 102.69 yen late Friday. The euro edged up to $1.1238 from $1.1228.

(KA)