Banks Lead Early Gains for Stocks

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are shaking off an early decline and turning higher Wednesday. Banks are rising along with bond yields after the government said consumer prices climbed in January at a rate that was faster than economists had expected. There were few signs of the worries about inflation that sent stocks falling in the last few weeks.

Chipotle Mexican Grill soared after hiring away Taco Bell's CEO to lead the company.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,666 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 2 points to 24,646. The Nasdaq composite climbed 30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,043. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,500.

PRICE REPORT: Excluding volatile items like food and energy, prices paid by consumers rose 0.3 percent in January. That's the most in a year. Stocks started slumping Feb. 1 after reports of greater wage growth caused investors to worry about faster inflation. Inflation has been very low for years, and if that changes, it could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more rapidly. Higher interest rates act as a check on the economy by making it more expensive for businesses and individuals to borrow money.

The reaction to the gains in consumer prices was relatively calm Wednesday morning. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.88 percent from 2.84 percent the day before. That hurt shares of high-dividend companies like real estate investment trusts and utilities. Those stocks are often compared to bonds because of their big dividend payments and relatively steady prices, but investors find them more appealing when bond yields are falling.

RETAIL SALES: American cut back on purchases of cars, furniture and a variety of other products in January, pushing retail sales down by 0.3 percent, the biggest decline in 11 months. The Commerce Department also cut its estimate for shopping in December, saying sales were unchanged. The surprise slowdown comes after a three-month stretch of sizzling consumer activity, from September through November, which had fueled the most robust holiday sales in a decade.

Retailers were mixed in the early going. Home Depot fell $1.42 to $182.30 and McDonald's slipped $2.03, or 1.3 percent, to $160.37 after a strong gain on Tuesday. Amazon rose $8.70 to $1,423.22 and Macy's gained 10 cents to $24.98.

DOES HE GET EXTRA GUAC? Chipotle Mexican Grill picked named Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol as its next CEO. Chipotle has been hit hard by food safety scares over the last few years and has had trouble winning back customers. Niccol launched breakfast at Taco Bell and also introduced mobile ordering from its restaurants, and investors felt he might help the company improve its fortunes. Founder Steve Ells resigned as CEO in November.

The stock rose $36.98, or 14.7 percent, to $288.31. It traded above $700 in mid-2015.

SHOWTIME: Netflix climbed after the New York Times reported that the streaming video company signed another big-name TV writer and producer to a production deal. The Times said "Glee" and "American Horror Story" producer Ryan Murphy received a $300 million deal that will span five years. He had worked with Twenty-First Century Fox. In August Netflix announced a deal with "Scandal" and "Gray's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes.

Netflix climbed $6.15, or 2.4 percent, to $264.42.

WATCH THIS: After years of declines, watchmaker Fossil soared $6.70, or 74.1 percent, to $15.74 after it did far better than Wall Street expected in the fourth quarter. The stock was worth more than $100 at the end of 2014, but plunged as competition from smart watches and fitness trackers eroded its sales.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 75 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $58.44 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 54 cents to $62.18 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.40 yen from 107.69 yen. The euro dipped to $1.2321 from $1.2355.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany rose 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 added 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain jumped 0.6 percent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4 percent after its economy grew at a slower-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 2.3 percent.