Tech, Health Care Leads Stocks Up

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are slightly higher Thursday morning as technology and health care companies move up after two days of broad losses. Discount retailer Dollar General is climbing after a strong profit forecast for the year. Toymakers Hasbro and Mattel are down as Toys R Us moves toward shuttering its U.S. stores.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,753 as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 97 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,855. The Nasdaq composite remained at 7,496. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,582.

BARGAIN HUNTING: Discount retailer Dollar General climbed $4.17, or 4.7 percent, to $93.37 after it said shoppers spent more money per trip during the fourth quarter gave a strong forecast for the year. Competitor Dollar Tree gained $1.17, or 1.3 percent, to $93.98.

TOYS WINDING DOWN: Mattel declined 20 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $13.98 and Hasbro slipped 33 cents to $88.20 as Toys R Us prepares to shut down its U.S. operations. CEO David Brandon told employees Wednesday the chain plans to liquidate all of its U.S. stores, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. The company has 740 stores and 30,000 employees, and its struggles have hurt both Hasbro and Mattel because they each get about 10 percent of their sales from Toys R Us.

The 70-year-old company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late October and said in late January that it would close 182 stores. Since that date, Mattel has plunged 21 percent and Hasbro has fallen 7 percent.

LEADERS: Among health care companies, Alexion Pharmaceuticals gained $9.75, or 7.9 percent, to $132.43 after it said one of its key experimental drugs worked in a late-stage study. Merck picked up 52 cents to $55.32. In the technology industry, chipmaker Nvidia advanced $3.01, or 1.2 percent, to $251.75 and IBM added $2.01, or 1.3 percent, to $160.13.

PRINT IT: 3D Systems Holdings jumped $1.49, or 12.3 percent, to $13.64 after the 3D printer maker had a stronger fourth quarter than analysts expected.

WATERWORKS: Utilities also did better than the rest of the market. Connecticut Water Service jumped $3.40, or 6.5 percent, to $55.97 after the parent company of San Jose Water agreed to buy it for $750 million in stock. SJW Group lost $2.68, or 4.9 percent, to $51.71.

OFFICE MOVE: Consumer giant Unilever fell 90 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $52.44 after the company said it will put its sole headquarters in the Netherlands. For year it's had dual head offices in London and Rotterdam. The company said its part of a restructuring aimed at making it a "more agile and more focused business."

ENERGY: Oil futures advanced. Benchmark U.S. crude added 46 cents to $61.42 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 38 cents to $65.27 per barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.81 percent from 2.82 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slid to 105.95 yen from 106.25 yen. The euro fell to $1.2337 from $1.2375.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany rose 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 0.3 percent. The British FTSE 100 was little changed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.1 percent higher while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent.