Financials, Tech Leading Stocks Up

(AP) -- Banks and technology companies are helping to nudge U.S. stocks slightly higher in afternoon trading, adding to the market's five straight weeks of gains. Energy companies are also up as crude oil prices climb. Health care stocks are among the biggest laggards.Banks and technology companies helped nudge U.S. stocks slightly higher in afternoon trading Monday, adding to the market's five straight weeks of gains. Energy companies also rose as crude oil prices climbed. Health care stocks were among the biggest laggards.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,554 as of 1:28 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 45 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,917. The Nasdaq composite gained 6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,612. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,500.

THE QUOTE: "Today is a sort of wait-and-see market as investors are really looking for the direction of earnings and whether companies continue to report strong results," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones. "That will be a catalyst for stocks to move higher."

EARNINGS AHEAD: A few companies, mostly big banks, kicked off the third-quarter earnings season last week. Monday was a relatively light day for earnings, but the pace was slated to pick up on Tuesday and into next week, when the bulk of S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report quarterly results.

FINANCIALS & TECH: Investors bid up shares in banks and technology companies. The sectors are the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 so far this year. JP Morgan Chase gained $1.70, or 1.8 percent, to $97.56. Micron Technology rose $1.09, or 2.7 percent, to $41.49.

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"Tech and financials are somewhat higher as investors continue to expect good earnings ahead," Warne said.

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: Ruby Tuesday climbed 19.1 percent after the struggling restaurant chain said has agreed to be acquired by NRD Capital in a deal valued by the companies at $335 million, or $2.40 a share, including debt and other items. The stock added 38 cents to $2.37.

G'DAY FOR A DEAL: KBR climbed 4.5 percent after the engineering and construction company said it will buy Australian defense technology company Sigma Bravo. Shares in KBR added 80 cents to $18.45.

PROMISING TREATMENT: Exelixis vaulted 25.1 percent after the company reported positive study results for its cancer drug Cabometyx and said regulators will consider expanding the uses for which it is approved. The stock gained $6.22 to $30.98.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Nordstrom slid 6.2 percent after the department store chain said it is temporarily shelving its bid to go private. The stock shed $2.63 to $40.02.

OUT THE DOOR: Sears Holdings slumped 13.1 percent on news that Bruce Berkowitz, who runs a firm that is the retailer's biggest shareholder, is leaving Sears' board of directors. Sears lost 88 cents to $5.89.

ON THE HOT SEAT: Shares in Pacific Gas and Electric Co. were down 7.98 percent Monday, adding to a 10.5 percent plunge on Friday, when California regulators directed the utility to preserve any evidence of faulty equipment that might be connected to the wildfires in Northern California. The blazes have killed at least 40 people and destroyed 5,700 homes and businesses. The stock lost $4.58 to $53.15.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.29 percent from 2.27 percent late Friday.

ENERGY: Oil prices headed higher amid rising tensions in the Middle East as Iraqi federal forces moved into the disputed city of Kirkuk and seized oil fields, prompting a withdrawal by Kurdish forces. Benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 44 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $51.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $57.83 a barrel in London.

Oil production companies were moving higher along with oil prices. Hess rose 85 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $45.84.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.78 yen from 111.89 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1811 from $1.1817.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Global stocks were mostly higher after finance leaders appealed over the weekend for a continuation of low-interest rate policies to keep economic recoveries on track. In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.1 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged 0.8 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent, while the S&P ASX/200 added 0.6 percent. India's Sensex picked up 0.6 percent. Shares in Southeast Asia were higher.

(BE)

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