Tech Leads Stocks Higher

NEW YORK (AP) -- A strong forecast from PC and printer maker HP is helping technology companies higher Friday morning as U.S. stock indexes make small gains. Retailers are also up after the Commerce Department said Americans shopped more in September. Health insurers and hospital operators are skidding after President Donald Trump said he will stop government payments to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,554 as of 10:04 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,881. The Nasdaq composite gained 17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,608. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,504.

HEALTH SCARE: The White House said late Thursday that it is stopping subsidy payments to insurers under the 2010 health care law. Those payments help reduce copays and deductibles for people with lower incomes. The move could reduce payments to hospitals and raise costs for insurers. Adding to the uncertainty, the sign-up period for subsidized private insurance starts Nov. 1.

Medicaid program administrator Centene lost $7.45, or 8 percent, to $86.23 and insurer Anthem gave up $4.85, or 2.6 percent, to $184.89. Hospital operator Tenet dropped 86 cents, or 6.2 percent, to $13. Prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen fell $2.64, or 3.3 percent, to $78.16.

TECH GAINS: HP forecast an adjusted profit of $1.74 to $1.84 a share in its next fiscal year, which is better than Wall Street expected, and also said it will return at least 50 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders by paying dividends or buying back stock.

HP stock gained $1.12, or 5.5 percent, to $21.52. Elsewhere, Facebook rose $1.88, or 1.1 percent, to $174.43 and Microsoft added 50 cents to $77.63.

SHOPPING DIDN'T DROP: The Commerce Department said retail sales grew 1.6 percent in September after a small decline in August. Sales of cars jumped as people living in the Southeast and Gulf Coast replaced vehicles that were destroyed by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Even excluding the volatile auto and gas categories, sales rose a solid 0.5 percent.

Tiffany jumped $2.08, or 2.3 percent, to $94.16 and teen clothing retailer Buckle advanced 35 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $15.70. Other consumer-focused companies rose as well. Travel website Expedia gained $1.87, or 1.3 percent, to $149.85 and streaming video company Netflix surged $3.78, or 1.9 percent, to $199.64.

BONDS: Bond prices jumped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 2.29 percent from 2.32 percent. The drop in interest rates weighed on banks, as lower interest rates reduce their profits from lending.

Wells Fargo fell $1.70, or 3.1 percent, to $53.51. The bank's third-quarter results came up far short of analyst estimates as its legal expenses rose.

OIL: Energy companies rose along with oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 73 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $51.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 85 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $57.10 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.77 yen from 112.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.1867 from $1.1836.

OVERSEAS: The French CAC 40 declined 0.2 percent, as did the FTSE 100 index in Britain. The DAX in Germany was little changed. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1 while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng added 0.1 percent.