Modest Gains for Stocks Midday

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are higher Monday as technology and industrial companies, banks and retailers all make modest gains. Drugmakers and other health care companies are trading lower and energy companies are slipping with the price of oil. Stocks have declined over the last two weeks. Trading is expected to be relatively quiet ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday later this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,582 as of 1 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 87 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,445. The Nasdaq composite advanced 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,787. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged up 3 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,496.

TECH TIE-UP: Chipmaker Marvell Technology Group said it will buy competitor Cavium for $6 billion in the latest deal in the semiconductor industry. Cavium climbed $7.40, or 9.8 percent, to $83.23 and it's up 20 percent over the last two weeks on reports Marvell would make a bid. Marvell rose $1.07, or 5.2 percent, to $21.36.

Other technology companies climbed as well. IBM added $1.82, or 1.2 percent, to $150.79 and Applied Materials picked up $1.38, or 2.4 percent, to $57.87. Cisco Systems gained 50 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $36.40.

RETAIL RISING AGAIN: Retailers continued to move higher. They climbed last week following solid quarterly reports from Wal-Mart, Gap and Ross Stores. That's given investors hope that shoppers are ready to spend more money. Home improvement retailer Home Depot rose $2.69, or 1.6 percent, to $170.43 and electronics retailer Best Buy advanced 77 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $56.60. Hibbett Sports, after a 15-percent surge on Friday, added $1.40, or 8.2 percent, to $18.50 and clothing company PVH rose $2.51, or 1.9 percent, to $135.63.

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GENERAL ELECTRIC SLIDE: Industrial companies rose, as 3M gained $3.79, or 1.7 percent, to $233.15 and Boeing added $2.76, or 1.1 percent, to $265.02.

General Electric missed out on those gains as investors continued to wonder about the company's direction. On Sunday the Wall Street Journal said that directors with energy and financial backgrounds, as well as GE's two longest-tenured directors, are likely to leave the board as it shifts its focus away from those industries. The company said earlier this month that it will reduce the number of directors to 12 from the current 18.

GE lost 28 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $17.93.

COMPETITION CONCERNS: Merck stumbled after Genentech, a unit of Swiss drugmaker Roche, reported positive results from a study of its drug Tecentriq as a primary treatment for lung cancer. Genentech said patients who were given Tecentriq as part of their treatment regimen were less likely to die or see their cancer get worse.

The results could affect sales of Merck's drug Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo. Merck fell $1.21, or 2.2 percent, to $53.99 and Bristol-Myers Squibb lost 69 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $60.63.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 57 cents, or 1 percent, to $55.98 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, dropped 69 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $62.03 a barrel in London.

ALIBABA GOES SHOPPING: Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba said it will pay $2.88 billion for a 36 percent stake in Sun Art Retail Group, which runs more than 400 supermarket and big box stores across China. Its stock gained $2.88, or 1.6 percent, to $188.01.

OFF THE LIST: Zions Bancorporation rose after it said it will change its corporate structure and try to get itself removed from a group of companies that are subject to extra regulatory oversight because of their importance to the financial system and the economy. That would make it easier for Zions do things like raise its dividends and buy back stock. Its shares added 75 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $47.05.

BONDS: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.37 percent from 2.35 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.52 yen from 112.13 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1745 from $1.1796.

OVERSEAS: Germany faces an uncertain political future after the collapse of weeks of talks on forming a new government, but European stocks and bonds showed few ill effects. The German DAX was up 0.7 percent while France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.2 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.2 percent.

(BE)

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